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Nick Martinez returns to his second home

7/22/2014

NEW YORK -- Nick Martinez, the Texas Rangers' scheduled starter Tuesday against the New York Yankees, grew up in Hialeah, Fla.

Martinez didn't play college baseball in the South, instead earning a scholarship to play at Fordham University in the Bronx. So when Martinez pitches at Yankee Stadium, it's a homecoming of sorts.

"My family's here, a bunch of my college buddies, a few coaches -- it's going to be special," said Martinez, who is making his first start since July 1. "I spent a whole lot of games in the left-field bleachers the three years I went to school here. It will be nice to have them here."

In three seasons at Fordham, Martinez hit .295 with 109 runs scored, 66 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. He pitched in 15 games, compiling three saves and 22 strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.

The Rangers selected him in the 18th round of the 2011 draft.

Martinez will be activated from the disabled list at some point Tuesday. He's been out with a left-oblique-muscle issue, and the Rangers could use a fresh arm.

After watching Miles Mikolas earn his first win of the season in a 7 1/3-inning effort, Martinez can build off that in Game 2 of this series. The 23-year-old right-hander has had his struggles: In his previous seven starts, he was 0-5 with an 8.10 ERA that raised his overall ERA from 2.14 to 5.10.

Martinez lasted just five innings in a July 1 loss at Baltimore. He gave up eight runs -- six earned -- on seven hits, which included three home runs. Indeed, keeping the ball in the park is Martinez's biggest issue. He leads the club with 12 home runs allowed and opponents have hit eight in his past six starts.

"My plan doesn't really change," he said. "I have to be a little bit more efficient, obviously, in the game. My plan of attack doesn’t change, just have to get ahead of the hitters and locate my fastball and command and keep hitters off balance."

Coming off an injury and trying to finish a season strong can be tricky. Martinez (1-6) had to make sure he didn't rush back too quickly and suffer a setback.

Reviewing his mistakes, meantime, can also help him respond in the second half.

"Hopefully, just the more rest I had, the better I felt," Martinez said. "A couple times early, I tried to throw and it bothered me, and I got rest and it felt better quicker. I didn’t look at video -- obviously, you have some time to think, and you just want to take what I learned from the first half and apply it to this half and do the best I can and not make the same mistakes."