Martinez's fast bat is quick hit
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Even a batting practice home run by Chito Martinez has a certain splendor.
Martinez bounced one off the Silver Stadium scoreboard deep in rightfield yesterday and everyone around the batting cage just stared.
"He has quick hands, a fast bat. That's the secret of his power," said Don Buford, the Orioles' director of field operations and instruction who served up the home run pitch.
Martinez, 25, who spent several weeks in May on the disabled list, leads the International League with 17 home runs. He ended a 10-game hitting streak in last night's 12-4 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs but still is batting .333 with 59 hits in 177 at-bats. He has 46 RBIs and 56 strikeouts.
"He uses the whole field. That means he's sitting back and waiting to see where the ball is pitched," Buford said. "He swings the bat with authority on each swing. He has a real feel for the ball. He certainly has the strength to drive the ball out of any part of the park. If he continues doing what he's doing, he'd be a catalyst for a major-league club."
The lefthanded-hitting outfielder signed with the Orioles as a free agent last November out of the Kansas City Royals' organization. He hit 21 home runs last year with Omaha and 23 with Memphis in 1989. He's putting up the best numbers of his career this year. His batting average last year was .264 with 129 strikeouts.
"I'm not doing anything different. I'm waiting on the ball and I'm just trying to hit it hard anywhere, not pull the ball every time," Martinez said.
Outfielder Luis Mercedes had his first four-hit performance at the Triple A level this week against Scranton-Wilkes Barre. His 10-game hitting streak ended last night. He's batting .309 with 59 hits in 191 at-bats. He also has 16 steals.
Pitcher Jim Poole this week recorded his sixth save in 13 games since joining the Wings from the Texas Rangers' organization.
@ HAGERSTOWN -- After winning six of 10 on the road, the Double A Hagerstown Suns closed a 10-game homestand with a 3-7 record.
The struggling Suns (37-37) did find some hope of shaking their slump last night, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Reading Phillies, 8-7, and move back to the .500 mark.
Third baseman Tim Holland has battered Reading pitchers this season, with six straight multiple-hit games (13-for-25) against the Phillies, all in the past two weeks. For the season, Holland is batting .269 with four home runs and 37 RBIs.
Also providing offense for the Suns is DH Tim Raley, who has a six-game hitting streak (9-for-20). Raley hit a three-run homer in the big seventh inning last night.
The Phillies have abused Suns starters the past two nights, reaching Mike Oquist for seven runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings Tuesday and Stacey Burdick for six hits and four runs in two innings last night. Before that, Suns starting pitchers had a composite 2.71 ERA in June.
Erik Schullstrom's injury problems might finally be behind him after the Frederick Keys righthander pitched six innings and allowed just one run and six hits Sunday against the Salem Bucs.
Schullstrom, the Orioles' second-round pick in the 1990 June draft, has been bothered by shoulder problems for two years and then broke a bone in the lower part of his right arm before spring training.
Third baseman T. R. Lewis has been lost for the rest of the year after shoulder surgery June 17.
Catcher Ed Horowitz is batting .295 for the Class A Keys, but it's obvious he would rather catch than be a DH. In his last four games as a catcher he is hitting .421, and in his last five as a DH he is hitting .263.
Due to C&P;'s scrambled phone lines yesterday, the Bluefield report was unavailable.