Allergies, asthma sent Cards' Martinez to hospital

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez rejoined the team Monday, two days after he was hospitalized to deal with respiratory issues.

Martinez said that his conditions were determined to be a product of allergies and asthma. The latter is an issue that has plagued him periodically in the past couple of years, especially during the Cardinals' trips to the high altitude in Denver. St. Louis played in Colorado last week.

"When I got to Colorado, I felt a tightness in the chest," Martinez said through an interpreter. "I couldn't breath properly. Even when I was drinking water, I was breathing through my mouth. But now I feel better."

Martinez reported that he was having trouble breathing during Saturday's game at Busch Stadium. Afterward, he was comforted by St. Louis manager Mike Shildt before going to the hospital for tests. He was released on Sunday.

"It was really scary," Shildt said. "People don't realize it. I was with him a fair amount of time after the game, just trying to be with him. He was in a tough spot. That's one of the worst feelings it can be, not being able to catch your breath and hyperventilating."

The treatment Martinez received while in the hospital relieved his symptoms and he said he is ready to pitch Monday if needed. Shildt said that he wouldn't hesitate to use Martinez in a key series opener against the Washington Nationals, as long as the righty does not have any setbacks during his pregame routine.

For Martinez, the worst part of the last couple of days was missing Sunday's contest. St. Louis led 4-3 entering the ninth inning of its series finale against NL Central rival Milwaukee. The Brewers scored four runs in that inning on Ryan Braun's grand slam and went on to win 7-6.

Martinez, 27, has filled in effectively as St. Louis' closer since hard-throwing Jordan Hicks was lost for the season with an elbow injury. He's 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA and a team-high 19 saves.

"Of course I wanted to be on the field," Martinez said. "Watching the team (lose) on the TV wasn't an easy situation for me. That's why I came here today. I wanted to recover as fast as possible so I can be on the field with them."