It was a long journey from the warehouse to the Sky Sox bullpen.
In 2010, Colorado Springs reliever Chris Martin was out of baseball, loading and unloading refrigerators and stoves in an often stifling hot Texas Appliance warehouse.
A torn labrum suffered before he drew his first paycheck playing independent baseball appeared to end his career in 2008 after his shoulder did not respond to rehabilitation following surgery in 2007.
But something happened during those long shifts. His shoulder healed and 18 months of heavy work improved his upper-body strength.
"I was finally putting on weight by eating fast food every day," he said at the recent Sky Sox luncheon. The team's home opener is Friday. "I never stopped thinking about baseball. Suddenly I was able to throw with no pain, and the next day it felt fine."
He didn't realize the opportunity ahead until playing catch during some down time at the warehouse with high school classmate and co-worker Jordan Bostick.
"He almost broke my thumb and he definitely broke my catcher's mitt," Bostick said. "It was obvious he didn't belong there."
Martin tried out for the Grand Prairie AirHogs as one of about 80 hopefuls. The radar gun showed pitches in the low 90-mph range for the 6-foot-7, 175-pounder and he was back in independent baseball.
Martin garnered his first save in his first pro appearance. But independent baseball rarely pays the bills.
His life changed again when the Boston Red Sox called during a warehouse shift and invited him to 2011 spring training.
They were willing to roll the dice, especially with him paying his way to Fort Myers, Fla., after the scouts noticed his 4-0 record with a 1.96 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 36? innings in the independent American Association in 2010.
"One thing just led to another," Martin said.
He reached Triple-A Pawtucket in his third season and was part of the offseason trade where the Sky Sox acquired left-hander Franklin Morales for infielder Jonathan Herrera on Dec. 18.
Now, the 2005 Rockies draft pick (21st round, never signed) is close to completing the final leg of his journey to the majors.
He was in contention for a Rockies bullpen spot until late March. He has two saves in three appearances this season for the Sky Sox.
The 27-year-old is grateful for his second chance.
"It is hard work loading appliances in Texas with no air conditioning in the summer," he said. "I get to do what I love for a living. I realize how lucky I am."
Bostick roots for his friend.
"He promised he would buy me a new glove if he made the bigs and I am still waiting," he joked. "Seriously though, it is just great to see a good guy get a second chance. It is supposed to work out that way for guys like that."