By the end of the offseason, the Cardinals will have had more than two dozen players participate in fall and winter ball leagues. Most are Minor League players, some of whom are trying to make up for time spent recovering from injury over the summer. Others are seeking an opportunity to play against tougher competition.

Carlos Martinez is the exception.

Martinez, who spent much of the 2013 season in the Majors and who finished the year a key member of the Cardinals' playoff roster, recently joined the Aguilas Cibaenas, one of six teams in the Dominican Winter League. Martinez, 22, lives in the Dominican Republic during the offseason.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said that Martinez asked for the organization's permission to participate in a portion of the Dominican Winter League season. The Cards gave him their blessing, though they are monitoring his pitch counts and workload.

"He felt like he really wanted to get back to work," Mozeliak said. "I think we're encouraged with where he is at. He was involved in a throwing program the last couple of weeks and ramped himself up."

In his winter league debut on Saturday, Martinez allowed an unearned run on two hits in two innings. He struck out two.

Though Martinez did not miss time due to injury in 2013, a changed role meant that he did not log as many innings as initially expected. He spent about half the season pitching out of the Major League bullpen. His season also started a bit later than usual after visa issues delayed his arrival to Spring Training.