Cardinals | Jose Martinez leaves big shoes to fill in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS — Players come and go. It’s part of the game of baseball, going back as long as the sport has been a beacon of popularity for fans, and dissected by the media.

When the St. Louis Cardinals traded Jose Martinez a couple weeks ago to the Tampa Bay Rays, fans lamented the reality that one of the more lively Cardinals had departed for the South. His absence was felt by the players, coaches, and manager. For Paul DeJong, some of the “Cafe” effects came off the field.

“He taught me Spanish. He’s a great teammate. He’s one of those guys who can pull you aside, whether you’re a young guy or vet. He had such a great connection between everybody. He was a great bat off the bench, that’s how this game goes. For us, it’s (wondering) who is going to fill that role for us?”

After all, Martinez was the million-to-one-shot player who collected more than three thousand minor league at-bats before breaking into the Majors at the age of 27.

Watch: Mike Shildt talks at Winter Warm Up


Cardinals manager Mike Shildt got to be the one who told Martinez he was finally going to the big show.

“I go back with him awhile. I had the blessing to tell him he was going to the big leagues. I had the good fortune to be with him in the big leagues the past three years. You talk about residual value with guys like (Paul) Goldschmidt, Jose has got it,” Shildt said.

“First off, he’s a really good hitter, so we will miss him from an offensive standpoint. A weapon we were able to use often.”

Shildt made it a point to mention how good of a teammate Martinez was, knowing how competitive and ever-changing the game can be for guys like him in a utility role. “All the guys want more. We want the guys on the bench to play every day. We want hungry guys. Jose wanted to play more, but sometimes it didn’t work out. He always took it with the utmost professionalism,” Shildt noted. “That’s a wonderful teammate. He’s a human Red Bull. Regardless of the circumstances, he was a very enthusiastic attitude.”

Watch: Jack Flaherty isn’t satisfied heading into 2020


The manager also noted how vital Martinez’s baseball IQ was to the team.

“He’s a smart baseball guy. He’s fun-loving and has an infectious personality, but he’s a really, really smart baseball guy. He moves the needle in our talks. He sees the game very well,” Shildt said.

Like everything in life, things change and they can do it on a dime, a passing car through an intersection or exiting a highway they’ve metaphorically been on for a very long time. What can’t be taken away from Martinez, defensive shortcomings and all, is a .298 batting average in nearly 1,200 Major League plate appearances. Couple that with an overall .821 OPS and the designated hitter slot available in Tampa Bay, and you have an eventful sequel shaping up for the veteran.


For me, he’s a guy who wasn’t just a dependable bat off the bench, but someone who was always open to chat. Last year, as I was leaving the Warm-Up, Martinez was standing by the exit and I stopped to talk to him. What would transpire had nothing to do with baseball or statistics. We just talked about life and what was coming down the pike. You have to understand how rare that can be in this game for a player to do that outside of a media room or clubhouse.

Right when you thought the generosity book had been written on Martinez, he had another chapter to add. That’s always going to be missed around a city and its baseball team.

As Cardinals reliever John Brebbia said, “you always want a guy like (Martinez) around.”

On the field and off, the Cardinals have big shoes to fill.

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Editor

Editor is St Louis Media, LLC (STLM). STLM is a web hosting, design, SEO, press release distribution company and news agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. We own and operate multiple news sites in the region. Our objective with STLNewsMissouri.com is to offer readers a one-stop news site for Missouri news. We aggregate news from news media across the state. We do not aggregate news from all sources. We pick from those that offer RSS feeds and pick the best with eliminating those that might produce the same news stories, written differently.
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