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J.D. Martin returns to the majors

At the end of spring training, the Nationals shipped J.D. Martin to Class AAA Syracuse, where he had spent his whole season before last night. He never questioned the decision - "I try not to even think about that stuff," Martin said. But last year, Martin made 15 starts for the Nationals, going 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA, and when he arrived in spring training this year, he faced long odds to make the opening day rotation.

"We got a good look at him," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "I think we probably, without making any assumptions, we kind of put him in there as about the sixth guy in our mind. The odds of him being on our club were diminishing. He actually pitched well enough to make the club. But we had to make a call."

At Class AAA Syracuse, Martin experienced back trouble, two bulging disks that required an MRI exam. He missed two starts, but still pitched well enough to warrant a chance, going 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA in six starts.

"He went down and worked hard," Riggleman said. "He didn't pout. He didn't complain. He just did his work and has earned his way back."

The result from that work came Saturday night, Martin's first major league start this season. He allowed four hits and no walks in six innings, surrendering just one earned run. Martin pitched well enough to prove he belonged, but one pitch and some costly defensive mistakes gave him the loss.

"We lost," Martin said. "That was the main thing. I feel like I got deep enough in the game to give us a chance. But that's how it goes."

Martin pitched in front several family members and friends - he's not even sure how many - who made the three-hour drive from his home town, Ridgecrest, Calif. He savored the chance to pitch in front of them, and just as he did the chance to pitch in the majors again. "It was great to be back up here," Martin said.

Martin will start again five days from now, Scott Olsen still mending the stiffness in his shoulder that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. He has a chance to show the Nationals what he couldn't this spring, that he deserves a spot in the rotation. "I don't really think about it," Martin said. "When I get out there, I just go to work."

"When you come like that, you kind of know you want to take advantage of it," catcher Wil Nieves said. "You want to show them what you can do and just pitch your best. That's exactly what he did. He gave us his best."

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 30, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Pitching rotation  
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Comments

I remember that tough two-out AB he gave the Nats last season, after a rain delay, that ignited a big rally, even though he wasn't going back out to pitch. It was very gutsy. Hope he does well, even though he's a long-shot to stay.

Posted by: nats24 | May 30, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Olsen, Strasburg, Wang, Detwiler, Mock, Marquis - can Martin outlast the eventual return of all these pitchers?

Posted by: urbanbunnies | May 30, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a question for Adam, Dave and Boz.

Has any other #1 Drafted Pitcher received as much "buzz" as to when he will hit the majors as Strasburg?

I don't remember any buzz around when the likes of Kerry Wood or Ben McDonald would come to the majors. I vaguely remember "buzz" when they finally did!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | May 30, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

JD did almost exactly what he was supposed to do last night - Serve as a stop-gap starter, and keep the team in the game.

He's a good bottom-of-the-order SP at the ML level, but he'll get sent back to SYR once either Strasburg or Olsen are deemed ready.

Posted by: BinM | May 30, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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