HOUSTON — Almost four months after a line drive fractured his skull, put him in the hospital for a week and inspired a flood of prayers from the Giants faithful, Joe Martinez will return to a major league mound today.
It will be a heartwarming moment at Minute Maid Park when the Giants activate Martinez from the 60-day disabled list, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy is hoping for more than warm fuzzies. With Randy Johnson's return at least a month away, the Giants need Martinez to solidify the No. 5 spot in the rotation, too.
"Oh, without a doubt, that would be ideal for us," Bochy said. "We'd like Joe to take that spot and run with it."
Martinez, 26, won an ERA title last year in the Double-A Eastern League but was a surprising addition to the Giants' Opening Day bullpen. The unassuming right-hander picked up the Opening Day victory April 7 while making his major league debut in relief.
Two days later, a batted ball from Milwaukee's Mike Cameron struck him on the forehead and fractured his skull in three places. He spent several days in an intensive care unit as doctors monitored internal bleeding.
Martinez began his minor league rehab assignment in July, and he tossed seven shutout innings in his last game for Triple-A Fresno. This will be his first major league start.
"I think controlling my emotions will be the biggest thing," Martinez said.
And no, fear is not among them.
"I've pitched seven or eight outings since I got hit in the head, and it really doesn't occur to you," Martinez said. "Just because you fall off a bike doesn't mean you don't get back on. It's pretty much the same thing."
The Giants will announce corresponding roster moves today. It's expected that they will option right-hander Waldis Joaquin, who made his major league debut Tuesday night, and transfer Emmanuel Burriss to the 60-day DL. ... Ryan Garko, who is off to a quiet start as a Giant, has sought counsel from one of his former Cleveland Indians teammates. He called infielder Mark De Rosa, who began 0-for-16 after the St. Louis Cardinals acquired him last month. ... Ryan Sadowski's sore right shoulder has checked out and he should rejoin the rotation at Fresno soon, Bochy said. ... Catcher Buster Posey hit his first Triple-A home run for Fresno at Tacoma on Tuesday afternoon. Posey also hit a two-run double and finished with four RBI.
— Andrew Baggarly