The Baltimore Orioles placed pitcher Dennis Martinez on the 21-day disabled list today, less than a week after the club asked him to accept a demotion to Class AAA Rochester.

Although the Orioles aren't commenting publicly, they indicate privately they are upset enough to consider releasing Martinez and paying off his $500,000 contract.

Sources said Martinez made the team in spring training only because of his contract, and he was told he would be traded as soon as they found an interested team.

General Manager Hank Peters, sources said, found two last week -- the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees -- but they wanted to see Martinez pitch regularly a couple of times, something he hasn't been able to do in his role of long relief.

Earlier this week, Peters and Martinez's agent, Baltimore attorney Ron Shapiro, talked to Martinez about pitching for the Red Wings.

Then, Wednesday, Martinez said his shoulder began to hurt, and when Manager Earl Weaver phoned the bullpen here Friday night to ask Martinez to warm up, he was told Martinez couldn't pitch.

Martinez and Weaver met briefly after Friday's game, and Weaver said, "He just told me his arm hurt. If someone tells you that, you have to believe him."

Bill Swaggerty was brought up from Rochester to replace Martinez, and sources near the club indicate there is a good chance Martinez will not be brought back.

"I talked to him today, and I'm convinced he really does have pain in his arm," Shapiro said tonight. "I don't think he created the pain just to keep from going to Rochester."

Martinez denied he was asked to go to the minor leagues. "They haven't mentioned it to me," he said. "I'd think about it if they did. Right now, my arm is hurt." Other sources insist management did ask him about it.

Martinez blamed Weaver for his pains, saying the manager had had him warm up too often in the bullpen. "I was up and down a lot in the cold weather, and I think that might be the problem."

Weaver defended himself, saying the pain didn't come up until Wednesday and Martinez wasn't up at all the days before that.

His last appearance was April 27, two-thirds of an inning in an 8-0 loss to Toronto.

"Maybe this is happening for the good," Martinez said. "I don't know if they're sending me home or what, but I think I'll be better for it."