Nick Martini got his first at-bat with the team he grew up cheering for Friday when he pinch-hit for the Cubs in the seventh inning.
Martini, a 2008 Prairie Ridge graduate, flied out to deep center field when he came in to pinch-hit for pitcher Zach Davies. The Cubs defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2, for their fourth consecutive win, moving them to .500 at 16-16.
Martini signed a contract with the Cubs in the offseason and had played two games at Triple-A Iowa this week before he got the call up to the majors. He was 1 for 7 with a solo homer in his two games at Iowa.
The Cubs announced several roster moves Friday, including designating pitcher Kyle Ryan for assignment and placing center fielder Ian Happ on the 10-day injured list with bruised ribs he suffered after colliding with infielder Nico Hoerner. Pitcher Jason Adam and Martini were called up from Iowa to take their spots.
Martini grew up in Crystal Lake and was a Cubs fan, usually watching games from the outfield bleachers. His first major league at-bat at Wrigley Field, with the Oakland A’s in 2019, was unforgettable.
Martini, who throws and bats left, worked Cubs reliever Steve Cishek in an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with Martini launching a two-run, pinch-hit homer into the stands in right-center field. About a dozen family members and friends in the front row of the left-field bleachers, including his parents Scott and Kris, and sisters Maddy and Hannah, went wild as Martini trotted around the bases.
Martini was a star on Prairie Ridge’s 2008 Class 4A state championship baseball team, then put his name on several career leaders’ lists at Kansas State. He was drafted in the 2011 MLB First-Year Players Draft by St. Louis in the seventh round and played in the Cardinals’ organization for seven years.
In 2018, Martini got his break with Oakland when he was called up in June. He was sent back to Triple-A briefly, then rejoined the A’s for the rest of the season. His discipline and on-base average led A’s manager Bob Melvin to put him in the starting lineup frequently, sometimes batting him leadoff.
Martini led off in the AL wild-card playoff game against the New York Yankees.
In 2019, Martini was selected by San Diego off waivers from Oakland. In that offseason, he was selected off waivers by Cincinnati and two months after that by Philadelphia.
Martini was granted free agency in November 2020 and signed with the Cubs in the offseason. He brings versatility with his ability to play all three outfield spots and speed, along with his knack for getting on base.