Martin aims to remain healthy
Right-hander making solid recovery from Tommy John surgery
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The goals are more simplified, the expectations more structured.After everything he's gone through the last few years, right-hander J.D. Martin doesn't have his mind set on eye-catching numbers and a quick ascension through the Minor League ranks. His hopes are of the meek and humble variety. "I just want to stay healthy," Martin said. "That becomes your No. 1 priority -- staying healthy and getting a lot of innings in." Innings and health have not been the 24-year-old Martin's specialty since 2005. It was relatively early in that season that Martin, the 35th overall pick out of Burroughs High School (Calif.) in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, first felt the twinge in his elbow that would lead to the ubiquitous Tommy John surgery -- a procedure that can temporarily, if not permanently, stop a career dead in its tracks. Getting on track after the ligament transplant surgery was, as anticipated, a test of patience for Martin. He missed the entire second half of '05 and the first half of '06, yet he was not absent the confidence that he'd soon be back on the mound, slinging up the numbers that had made him one of the Indians' top prospects. "I knew I just needed to do what I needed to do to get back," Martin said. "That's all that went through my mind." On the Indians' mind was the enormous potential Martin possesses. It was reason enough to believe the early medical setback wouldn't be enough to deter his career. In his first professional season at Rookie League Burlington in 2001, Martin went 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 starts. He overmatched his competition, striking out 72 batters in 45 2/3 innings. That promising start foretold of a Minor League career that has seen Martin go 39-22 with a 3.62 ERA in 103 games, including 101 starts. He's struck out 463 batters in 524 innings, walking 143.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.