Wings' Martinez lobbies for left-handed spot on Orioles...

Minor-league notebook

July 18, 1993|By Patti Singer Baysox: Chaves pleasant relief

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK — Wings' Martinez lobbies for left-handed spot on Orioles' 0) bench

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For all of Chito Martinez's protestations about not caring what the Orioles do with him, the Rochester Red Wings outfielder is quick to point out that they don't have a left-handed hitter off the bench, and their outfield reserves are untested rookies.

"I believe Johnny [Oates] knows how I can hit," says Martinezwho has 18 homers and 58 RBI in 414 at-bats with the Orioles.

He was 3-for-51 with the Orioles, Bowie Baysox and Red Wingbeforegoing 8-for-18 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBI in five games before Friday night.

Martinez, whose first demotion this season was to crosstown Bowie, says he doesn't think the Orioles buried him by sending him 400 miles to Rochester. He says that facing better pitching will help him recapture the swing that produced 33 homers for Rochester and Baltimore in 1991.

"I would think they want someone who has experience," says Martinez, referring to Jack Voigt, Damon Buford and Sherman Obando. "Those guys aren't proven major-league hitters. When it comes to the pennant race, do you go with a guy that's proven or a guy you don't know?"

NOTES: Mike Oquist moved into the top five in strikeouts (91) after collecting six in four innings Thursday night against

Ottawa. John O'Donoghue ranked third with 97. . . . Mark Smith ranked fifth in the league in batting at .312. . . . Tommy Hinzo was tied for third in stolen bases with 21. . . . The team ERA has sunk to ninth in the 10-team league at 4.31, but the pitchers were second in strikeouts with 648. . . . Right-hander Brian Wood has a 1.80 ERA and 13 strikeouts in his past five outings. . . . Even though his latest promotion lasted only a few days and netted him one at-bat, 1B Paul Carey called it a learning experience. He said he talked to Tim Hulett about defensive positioning and to Harold Baines about left-handed hitting. When the Orioles signed Rafael Chaves as a minor-league free agent last winter, the staff's impression was that the new acquisition must be a closer who brings smoke.

"You see those 34 saves, you think of a guy who really throw hard," said Bowie Baysox pitching coach John O'Donoghue. "That's not Rafael. But I can tell you we haven't been disappointed [in Chaves' moderate velocity] because of the command he has. This man can pitch."

Chaves' figures were indeed impressive at High Desert in th Single-A California State League. He had a 1.83 ERA and allowed only 64 hits in 88 1/3 innings. He had almost a 2-to-1 Z strikeout-to-walk ratio (67-36).

"But I was in A ball the whole year. I put up some great numbers and it didn't seem like that was enough for the Padres," said Chaves, who signed with San Diego in 1986.

"I thought I had a chance to go to Triple-A, but they told me the plan was Double-A. They offered me pretty good money, but they weren't promising anything. I think I made the right decision to go."

Who knows where Chaves might be now had he stayed with Sa Diego, which is trimming its major-league payroll and relying on youngsters. He could be on the edge of the majors or looking for a job.

Chaves has been the rock in Don Buford's rotating closer syste and is second in the league in saves. He started quickly, converting five of his first six situations, had a fallow period with none for a month, then picked up the pace again. His ERA has JTC not been above 2.92 all season.

Now 25, Chaves grew up in Puerto Rico idolizing Jim Palme because "I was a starter back then and most of the people in my country are either for the Orioles or the Yankees."

He has played with Sandy Alomar Jr., Roberto Alomar, Carlo Baerga (his roommate two years) and Juan Gonzalez. Saavy is his game.

"Rafael locates well on both sides of the plate and has good bit on the slider," said O'Donoghue. "And he wants the ball all the time. He's not the type you can leave in there three innings, but we give it to him often."

NOTES: Catcher Gregg Zaun has been re-activated after bein disabled for a month with a sore elbow. . . . The rained-out appearances of Morganna and The Chicken have been rescheduled for July 29 and Aug. 11, respectively. . . . Stanton Cameron had a banner series at New Britain, going 9-for-17 with two home runs.

Kent Baker

Keys: Four-star rating

FREDERICK

FREDERICK -- Four Frederick Keys have been selected to the Northern Division team for the Carolina League All-Star Game at Winston-Salem, N.C., next Sunday.

Included are outfielders Curtis Goodwin (.280, 101 hits) and Alex Ochoa (.259, 11 homers, 58 RBI, 20 steals), third baseman Scott McClain (.245, 26 RBI) and pitcher Rick Forney (7-6, 3.06 ERA).

Goodwin is the league's stolen base leader with 48 and Forney was third in strikeouts with 103 in 108 2/3 innings entering last night's start.

Six players each were chosen from first-half champion Wilmington, Lynchburg and Prince William.

Ron Johnson of Wilmington will manage the North team.

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