Carlos Martinez: Me in Real Life

Carlos Martinez: Me in Real Life

ST. LOUIS -- My name is Carlos Martinez and I'm a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. You can call me Tsunami.

Believe it or not, I was almost a member of the Red Sox, and I came close to becoming a priest. I'm a proud man from the Dominican Republic and I've worked hard to get to this point. It hasn't always been easy, but I've tried to keep a smile on my face through it all. This is Me in Real Life.

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve the priest who taught us at the neighborhood church. I remember he would take us to ride bumper cars after Sunday school and of course, he would get us free tickets because we were really poor and we didn't have money. Church was a big part of my life. It was bigger than baseball. I actually studied to become a priest for four years. I eventually realized priesthood wasn't the right vocation for me but I learned a lot during that period. The road to the big leagues was the path I was supposed to be on so I got back on it.

The Red Sox gave me my first opportunity, but they weren't sure about my age. It's complicated and it happens sometimes in the Dominican Republic, but two months after signing me, I was told to take a year off and find my real papers. In my heart, I knew I didn't do anything wrong, but I also figured if God didn't want me to continue playing baseball, I'd find another job. I somehow moved on and I didn't lose faith. The mix-up was cleared up, the Cardinals gave me a chance and the rest is history. I am who I am today because of them. For me, it's God, family and then the Cardinals.

Years later, I pitched against the Red Sox in the World Series. I was a not a kid anymore and I had a much more mature way of thinking about what happened, but I think everyone knew how close I was to being part of that organization. It was another reminder that anything can happen in baseball. The Red Sox were just another team I wanted to beat, so I cherished the moment, even in defeat.

Carlos Martinez on his nickname

Enjoying this game is important, especially on the day I pitch. I try to be relaxed and interact with my teammates as much as possible. Other pitchers might get very serious and try to avoid everything in order to stay focused, but I try to live my life like I normally do and not change anything. When it's game time, I feel like I am focused, like a horse with blinders. I see only home plate. But you must enjoy life. It can be taken away at any moment.

I know this experience first-hand. When Oscar Taveras died, I lost a brother, a friend. It was almost like losing a twin. Maybe in some ways his death helped me become more mature and plant my feet firmly on the ground. I think you can say the same about the deaths of Yordano Ventura, Jose Fernandez and Andy Marte, who I played with on the Aguilas Cibaeñas. People would ask me about them and I refused to allow myself to go to that sad place. I didn't really talk about it. But life has taught me that you can remember the good things and that's what I focus on, the good memories. So, when I am asked about my friends who have died, and you see me smile, it's because I am thinking of the joy we shared.

Carlos Martinez on Taveras

My best friends, Yordano and Oscar, are gone. But don't feel sorry for me. I still have a lot of friends, like Yadier Molina. Yadi is like my Dad. Sometimes, you have ups and downs and he's the one who pulls you aside and asks what's wrong and if you need anything. Adam Wainwright is the same way. In the dugout, Wainwright is always being silly and making all of us laugh. I think if he can do it, I can also be a leader in the dugout, on the field and most importantly, I can be a leader in the community.

Carlos Martinez discusses Molina

Listen, I had no one to give me a grain of rice or a pair of shoes to go to school or give me spikes to play baseball. A bat, a glove, whatever. I never had that. So, I created my Tsunami Waves Foundation to help out those in need. We have a golf tournament and a bowling tournament to raise money to help people here in St. Louis and in the Dominican Republic. We provide meals, clothing, baseball equipment and school supplies. We take doctors and dentists to the Dominican. We are creating scholarships. I'm partnering with Albert Pujols' foundation to help more people. Sales from our Tsunami clothing line will also help the foundation. The Cardinals have been a big supporter of the Tsunami Waves Foundation and I really appreciate that.

Carlos Martinez on love for fans

I try to do what I can. I know I'm not perfect but I'm doing things the right way. I'm a good Dad, a good husband and a good person. I'm always humble, always charismatic, and always happy. I try to spend as little time as possible being negative because there is no point. Only God knows how much time we have here so I'm not going to waste my days on things I can't control. And that's how I choose to live my life.

Carlos Martinez is a right-hander for the St. Louis Cardinals. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.