Dennis Martinez has accepted the fact he won't pitch for the Baltimore Orioles again, and he spent today waiting to find out about a new team.
"Maybe I'll be pitching somewhere this weekend," he said. "Maybe it'll be for a team that'll play the Orioles in the World Series or playoffs. Wouldn't that be great?"
It may be another day or two before he finds out. Martinez's 20-day rehabilitation period ended at Class AAA Rochester Sunday, and the Orioles were trying to trade him.
Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said, "I've made a lot of phone calls," and added he hoped to have a trade worked out in the next 48 hours. Sources said the Orioles are asking essentially that a team agree to pick up the remainder of Martinez's $500,000 1986 salary.
The hindrance to a trade is the assumption that the Orioles are going to release Martinez. A team could then pick him up for the major league minimum salary of $60,000.
"I don't want to see us release him and then he come back and beat us," an Orioles source said. "That's my feeling on that. We'd be paying his salary, and he might be beating us."
Nevertheless, Martinez, 31, was preparing to begin a new baseball life after nine seasons and 108 victories with the Orioles. He has been almost like a son to many in the Orioles' organization, especially after they watched him win a battle with alcoholism after the 1984 season.
The problem is that, as he was winning that fight, he was losing important inches off his fastball. He went 81-55 in his first five seasons with the Orioles, and in strike-shortened 1981, tied for the American League lead with 14 victories.
Since then, the right-hander has gone 26-36, and although he did win 13 games last season, he had a 5.15 ERA. This spring, five other starting pitchers clearly beat him out for a place on the team.
"I'd really like to stay with the Orioles, but Earl Weaver, the manager doesn't want me," Martinez said. " . . . What can I do, anyway? Nothing. I still want to pitch in the major leagues, and I think I can help someone win."
Asked if he was bitter at Weaver, he said: "To be honest, yes. As soon as we talked in spring training, I knew he didn't have a place for me, and there was nothing I could do to change his mind."
Weaver said, "Dennis still has good enough stuff to win in the major leagues, but he has to find someone who can get through to him."