Arlington High grad returns as real-life Rockie story

05/07/2014 9:38 PM

11/12/2014 5:11 PM

The movie script that is Chris Martin’s rise to the major leagues reached its climactic moment when the Arlington native returned to the spot where the dream began so many years ago.

The Colorado right-handed relief pitcher retired the Rangers in order in the seventh in 10 pitches of the Rockies’ victory on Wednesday night.

It was the continuation of a pinch-me moment for the Arlington High School graduate.

Martin is here because of a revitalized arm that hit 97 mph on the gun on Wednesday and a good sinker that produces ground balls.

Equally important as those qualities, was the 27-year-old’s capacity to cope with injury and doubt.

In seven appearances since being called up from Triple A, including his major league debut on April 26, Martin has given up two runs on seven hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings.

“I thought I was done,” said Martin, an imposing presence at 6-foot-8. “But I had a little piece in the back of my mind knowing I had the ability. And if I ever did get healthy, I’d take another chance at it.”

More than 100 family and friends were on hand Wednesday to see the guy they know and love with a repaired shoulder take the mound in his hometown.

Some, no doubt, members of the slow-pitch softball team Martin played on when he thought his career was over after shoulder surgery in 2007.

The shoulder issues first appeared in his sophomore season in 2006 at McLennan Community College, a year year after the Rockies selected Martin as a “draft and follow” — that is they had until the week before the next draft to sign him. That didn’t happen.

He had surgery for a torn labrum in 2007 and tried out for the independent Fort Worth Cats. He made the team, but left a short time later because the arm “just wasn’t ready to go.”

Figuring that was the end, Martin set aside his baseball career and landed a job at a warehouse.

Though the shoulder pain subsided, the itch to play did not. He threw with friends without pain and a career resurgence found life through a tryout with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association under manager Pete Incaviglia.

Martin, having never undergone any rehabilitation on his shoulder after surgery, turned out to be a find for Grand Prairie’s rotation.

At Incaviglia’s suggestion, the Boston Red Sox took a look and signed Martin in 2011.

Martin was in Double A by 2012.

“I pitched well there,” but it was an independent league, Martin said of his days in Grand Prairie. “I wasn’t sure of the talent level. When I signed with the Red Sox and playing a little bit better talent [in the minors], I realized I had a good shot.”

He was traded in the off-season to the Rockies.

“It’s a great story, but on top of that this is a guy with a great arm,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “He’s been a nice piece for us.”

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