Manager John Oates moved hot-hitting Chito Martinez into the second spot in the Baltimore Orioles' batting order last night.
But the manager attached no special significance to the shift of Martinez, who had hits in each of his first nine starts, including three homers, before going 0-for-4 last night.
"Who else am I going to put up there?" asked Oates. "Joe [Orsulak] is resting, and David [Segui] has a bad ankle and not a lot of speed."
Martinez said he hadn't hit second since 1986 when he was with the Class AA Memphis Chicks in the Kansas City Royals' farm system.
"I batted behind Gary Thurman and I saw a lot of fastballs," he said.
Martinez said he would confer with leadoff man Mike Devereaux about potential steal situations and whether "to give him a pitch. I don't know if he's on his own. I'll just have to be a little more selective."
Since being recalled from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings on July 5, Martinez has not skipped a beat in his offensive production. He had an International League-leading 20 homers for the Red Wings and was batting .322.
"I'm as relaxed as you can get," he said. "I'm not worried about much."
Oates said Martinez's attitude reflects that of the contemporary player -- sure of his ability.
"I'm not surprised by what he's done. I used to be nervous when a guy moved, taking everything in," he said. "But these days a 20-year-old rookie comes in like an 18-year veteran."
Martinez homered in his first Memorial Stadium appearance, a shot over the right-center-field fence that belied his small frame.
"It doesn't matter how big you are," said Oates. "He generates a lot of bat speed with that short stroke. You don't have to be big to hit home runs."
Martinez is 5 feet 10, 180 pounds.
"I think I have surprised pitchers," he said. "A lot of them see a little guy and expect me to slap it around. All of a sudden, you pop one and it changes their mind. From scouting reports, they know now I am capable of home runs."
Word good on Hulett
Tim Hulett was feeling much better yesterday after experiencing back pain earlier in the week.
"He had an MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] test, and it doesn't sound as bad as we feared," said Oates.
Hulett said Dr. Charles Silberstein told him a slight bulge in a disk was revealed, but "basically it was nothing major. I had a sore back."
He is on medication and will take whirlpool treatments. He hopes to be playing by next week.
"There's a game tomorrow, then a day off, and I feel I could be much improved over that time," he said. "I can walk standing straight now. Before it was in an L."
The players had a pre-game meeting to discuss what amenities they would like on the airplane the organization is planning to lease.
"It's commendable the front office asked for the players' input," said Oates. "They are making a concentrated effort to turn this around with the new stadium, new spring-training home, the plane."
Player representative Jeff Ballard said the leasing arrangement "has already been done. They're asking us what we'd like."
Ex-Orioles P Kevin Hickey still is working out with the team and has 3 more days before waivers expire on him. It is possible he will go on the road with the Orioles to throw batting practice if no team claims him. "My 9 lives are running out," said Hickey. "But I hope some team wants me." . . . The 4 pitchers who combined on the July 13 no-hitter against the Athletics -- Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson -- were honored in pre-game ceremonies. They autographed balls which will be sent to the Hall of Fame and the Babe Ruth Museum. . . . Segui returned to the starting lineup in left field despite the ankle. "He was out running sprints after Friday night's game and came in and told me he was fine," said Oates. "That's when I found out."