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Loss of Taveras may make Martinez a better player

The word on St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is that the death of his close friend, top prospect Oscar Taveras, has inspired the young hurler to take stock in his life and his career.

Martinez, who made headlines for the wrong reasons in the past because of episodes of youthful indiscretion and who seemed unable to weather rough sports when he was on the mound, has reportedly tried to take life a little more seriously after watching his buddy lose his life to reckless behavior.

It's a shame that Taveras couldn't be saved. But it's something of a silver lining if Martinez honors the late outfielder's memory by not only staying out of similar situations -- but by becoming the best player he could be.

I have never doubled Martinez's fastball. My fear was that he wouldn't mature between the ears before it's too late. He's been the kind of pitcher who'll strike out the side -- then the next inning he gives up a walk or a scratch hit to the lead-off batter and he completely falls apart. 

Perspective could go a long way to slowing Martinez down and helping him handle the tought moments. Hopefully, it will also cause him to realize that sometimes being talented isn't enough and that he needs to prepare off the field, too.

The Cardinals took a huge leap of faith when Taveras died and they rebuffed the Atlanta Braves' overtures for Martinez instead of more-established young hurler Shelby Miller. As raw as he's been, the Birds believe Martinez has the higher ceiling despite two uneven seasons between the big leagues and the high minors. I'm not suggesting in any way that the death of Taveras was a good thing. But, hopefully, something good will come out of Taveras' tragic demise and in that way Martinez can truly honor his friend.

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