Carlos Martínez will start season on IL, won’t pitch in exhibition play

Carlos Martínez is trying to overcome shoulder tightness.
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JUPITER, Fla. — St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martínez will begin the season on the injured list as the two-time All-Star tries to work his way back from shoulder weakness.

Martínez will not appear in exhibition games. He is to throw on flat ground for the next week before moving to a mound.

“He’s in a good spot,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s taken advantage of the time he’s had off to strengthen, and now he’ll get back to playing catch.”

St. Louis has not announced a timetable for the completion of Martínez’s strengthening program. Two weeks ago, the pitcher received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which Martínez said improved the condition.

“I’m not trying to rush this out,” Martínez said through an interpreter. “I just want to have a lot of strength in my shoulder so I’ll be able to pitch as long as the team needs me.”

A 27-year-old right-hander, Martínez was the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter last year but did not pitch for St. Louis between May 8 and June 5 last year because of a strained right lat muscle, then was out between July 19 and 30 because of a strained right oblique and between July 30 and Aug. 21 because of a strained right shoulder.

When he returned, Martínez pitched out of the bullpen and had five saves. He finished 8-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 18 starts and 15 relief appearances.

“That’s impossible to answer right now on a couple levels,” Shildt said of Martínez’s role this year.

Martínez could be available as a reliever a few weeks earlier than as a member of the rotation.

“I’m a starter until somebody tells me otherwise, and if they tell me otherwise I’m more than happy to help the team another way,” Martínez said.

Top prospect Alex Reyes isn’t a candidate to be the fifth starter. After throwing only four innings combined over the past two seasons because of Tommy John surgery and a lat injury, Reyes is vying for a bullpen spot.

Dakota Hudson, John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Austin Gomber are contenders to start. Gomber would be the rotation’s lone lefty.

Miles Mikolas will start Opening Day for the Cardinals at Milwaukee as part of a rotation projected to include Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright.