With several major league scouts scattered through the stands, Dennis Martinez of the Baltimore Orioles was at his absolute worst this afternoon, allowing the Atlanta Braves eight hits and six runs in four innings of a 6-0 loss.
He threw two wild pitches, walked three and now is 1-4 this spring with an ERA of 5.48. Had he pitched well, the Orioles might have been able to trade him before Monday, but because he was awful again, the chances of trading him are minimal.
The team is going to announce its last big roster cut tomorrow, and one of the cuts probably will be third baseman Wayne Gross, who has a $460,000 guaranteed contract.
Gross' salary is added to the $450,000 the club is going to pay Dan Ford, who has been released. If Martinez is cut, the bill for nonplaying players would be $1.41 million.
"If the baseball people come to me and say, 'This other guy will do a better job,' you have to do it," Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams said.
The Orioles are expected to make four cuts tomorrow, and the most likely to go are Gross, infielders Ricky Jones and Rex Hudler and reliever Nate Snell.
The final cut would be either catcher John Stefero or Martinez. Judging from their comments, General Manager Hank Peters seems to favor keeping two catchers, while Manager Earl Weaver wants to keep Martinez at least temporarily.
"Earl told me if I stayed I'd be in the bullpen," Martinez said. "I don't like the bullpen, and I haven't pitched well there. I would welcome a trade."
Weaver used his oddest lineup of the season today, with his biggest experiment using Larry Sheets at catcher the first seven innings. "He handles himself well back there," Weaver said. "He wouldn't embarrass us if we needed to use him."