Martinez, scratched with a bad back, ready to return Friday

Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is ready to get back on the hill. Actually he was never ready to get off it, but that wasn't his choice.

Scratched before his last start Tuesday for an ailment described as a minor back ailment, Martinez is expected to start for the Cardinals on Friday when St. Louis begins a big weekend series with its closest pursuer, the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to J.J. Bailey of KMOV.

More than the back issue, Martinez, 23, might have just part of manager Mike Matheny's plan to rest his young arms now to help prevent them from being gassed when the calendar rolls over to October.

On Wednesday, Matheny opted to skip ace Michael Wacha's start to save him innings.

Both Martinez and Wacha have pitched more than 150 innings this season. Neither had pitched more than 110 innings in their brief big-league careers.

“We’ve been kind of keeping our eyes open for an opportunity” to rest Wacha, manager Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It really wasn’t the 11th hour because we talked about it in February. Any chance we get to give Michael a break, to give Carlos a break. … The easy decision would be to just keep firing him out there.”

(h/t St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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