Chito Martinez was confident last night after being placed in the Orioles' starting lineup for only the eighth time this season.
"I've felt good at the plate in my last couple pinch-hitting appearances," he said. "This is the best I've felt all year. I haven't had much of an opportunity, so it's been kind of hard to get anything going."
He was prophetic.
Martinez, in right field and batting seventh against California rookie Julio Valera, singled home the Orioles' first run in his first at-bat. Later, he hit a long foul drive over the right-field bleachers and a 400-foot sacrifice fly to center field off a left-hander, Scott Bailes. Then, he doubled in the eighth inning.
Manager Johnny Oates was playing the situation by ear with Martinez because, he said, "I haven't had any kind of formula for either he or [David] Segui yet.
"Segui will play right tomorrow [today] and Sunday. Then, we'll see what happens."
Oates was starting to see some punch from Joe Orsulak, but Orsulak leveled off, so he said all three potential right fielders are "in limbo.
"I have three potential lineups for each series and they can change depending on what's happening."
On Segui, the manager said he "doesn't have the foot speed of some of the others" but "in everything else, he's right there with them."
Martinez went 2-for-25 in his first 15 games, but has picked up four RBI without hitting the ball out of the infield (three bases-full walks and a grounder).
"I haven't been playing but there's no sense being discouraged about it," Martinez said. "I respect Johnny's decisions. All you can do is sit back and wait until you get a chance and don't put any added pressure on yourself."
Anderson robbed, returns favor
Left fielder Brady Anderson was robbed of at least a double with the bases loaded in the eighth inning last night when Chad Curtis make a leaping catch at the right-field wall, but Anderson got a measure of revenge in the top of the ninth.
He make a spectacular, leaping catch to rob Gary Gaetti of a home run, flying high to pull the ball back out of the stands.
Fans in the left-field stands backed off to give him a chance at the ball, a gesture that did not go unnoticed. Anderson acknowledged them after the catch.
A year after Frank
Today is the anniversary of Oates' hiring to replace Frank Robinson as Orioles manager, and Oates said jestingly, "Who said I wouldn't last a year?"
His first impression was that he might starve because he vowed not to eat until the Orioles broke out of a losing stretch after the hiring. It went on for four more games.
"I'm making up for it now, eating four meals a day," said the manager.
"A year probably doesn't mean anything to anybody except me and my wife and kids. But I've seen a lot of things I've liked and some areas that need to get better. I think we have that capability."
The Orioles are 79-86 under Oates.
"In my situation, it was good to come in during the middle of the year," he said. "It was a learning process for me -- OJT [on-the-job training] if you will."
He said he hasn't changed much except for few pitchers. "We're not doing a whole lot of things different. Basically, it's the same ballclub with a little better pitching."
A homer haven?
Remember when Oriole Park at Camden Yards first opened and everyone was calling it a pitcher's park after three low-scoring games with Cleveland?
Now, the park is tied for third in the majors in average home runs per game (2.1) behind the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers (2.3).
A total of 43 homers have been hit here, 24 by the Orioles.
The Orioles will hold a free clinic from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. today at Robinson High School in Fairfax, Va. Instruction will be provided by Jeff Tackett, Mark McLemore and coaches Dick Bosman and Greg Biagini. . . .After more than 1,500 batters, no one had hit a ball off the right-field wall on the fly at Camden Yards until Randy Milligan doubled off the scoreboard in the sixth inning last night.