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Utility player Martinez initially wanted to be a police officer

| Sunday, March 2, 2014, 3:27 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Michael Martinez takes a throw at second base before a game against the Phillies Sunday, March 2, 2014, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Michael Martinez was studying to become a police officer in the Dominican Republic but instead wound up becoming a pro baseball player.

Scouts spotted Martinez while he was playing for the police academy's baseball team in 2004-05.

“Somebody told me (the scouts) were going to the stadium every day, but nobody knew who they were watching or what they were looking for,” Martinez said. “One day, after we lost to the army team, they called me over and asked if I wanted to try out for them. I said, sure. They hit me a couple of ground balls, and then they said, ‘We want to sign you.' “

The Washington Nationals signed Martinez and sent him to their team in the Dominican Summer League. In 2010, the Phillies claimed him in the Rule 5 draft.

Martinez, who can play in the outfield and infield, was in the majors for parts of the 2012 and ‘13 seasons. He signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in January.

Although he never graduated from the academy, Martinez works out with the police team in the offseason.

What about Stolmy?

Stolmy Pimentel started 147 of his 152 outings in the minor leagues, and Pirates management believes he has the ability to do it in the big leagues.

Although the right-hander has little chance of breaking into the rotation out of spring training, Pimentel is working as a starter for at least the first couple weeks of camp.

Sunday, Pimentel worked two innings against the Phillies. He allowed one hit and had one strikeout.

Pimentel is out of minor league options, which means the Pirates could lose him through waivers if he doesn't stick on the 25-man roster. So is Jeanmar Gomez, who served as a spot starter and long reliever last season.

“I started (Sunday), but I don't know if my next outing will be as a starter,” Pimentel said. “I can't control that. I just want to get ready, whether it's as a starter or a reliever.”

If Pimentel and Gomez make the team, is there room in the bullpen for two long relievers?

“Both have more than enough ability to pitch in more than just a long role,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We're looking forward to the challenging decision of taking our seven best relievers north. What does that mean, bigger picture? It will work itself out because of injury and attrition.”

Paulino's new look

Scouts will sometimes say a player “looks like a completely different guy” if his skills take a leap forward or regress dramatically from one year to the next. They probably said that about catcher Carlos Paulino during winter ball, but for a slightly different reason.

Paulino grew out a full beard while he played in the Dominican Republic.

It changed his appearance so much that Pirates Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo didn't recognize him from a few feet away.

“I was yelling at him and waving,” Paulino said. “He looked at me like, ‘Who's that?' “

Paulino hopes to alter his look in another way this season by becoming more of a factor at the plate. He has arguably the strongest arm of the Pirates' catching prospects, but his low-octane offense limits his appeal as a prospect.

“That's what I concentrated on this winter,” Paulino said.

He batted .220 with a .562 on-base plus slugging percentage in 99 games last year at Double-A Altoona.

If he starts this season at Triple-A Indianapolis, Paulino will be Tony Sanchez's backup.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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