B. Martinez to fill Flanagan void as analyst on televised O's games


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - With the Orioles' season opener nine days away, they've finally found someone to assist in broadcasting their televised games.

Buck Martinez has been hired as an analyst for broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet and the Orioles Television Network. He replaces Mike Flanagan, who was hired in December as vice president of baseball operations.

A former manager with the Toronto Blue Jays, Martinez will join play-by-play man Michael Reghi and analyst Jim Palmer.

"We're excited to add Buck to our television announcing team," said Joe Foss, vice chairman and chief operating officer. "Having played and managed in the American League for over 30 years, he has a wealth of experience on and off the field and will provide knowledgeable insight to our television broadcasts."

Martinez's first experience in television came in 1987 as a color commentator for the Blue Jays. He began working with ESPN radio and television in 1992, but left the booth in 2001 to manage the Blue Jays. He was fired last season.

A former catcher, Martinez began his playing career in 1967 when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent more than 20 years in professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and Blue Jays.

Ponson's shoulder is fine

Sidney Ponson's reluctance to throw his fastball during Thursday's five-inning start against the St. Louis Cardinals, and his refusal to speak with the media, led to speculation that the partial tear in his right labrum was becoming more of an issue.

Not true, manager Mike Hargrove said.

"He was just in a bad mood," Hargrove said. "He just had a bad day and everybody has those. We don't think Sidney is injured. He's healthy, he's throwing the ball well, getting good leverage on his pitches, and there's no reason to think he's not healthy."

Hargrove explained Ponson's abandonment of his fastball as a misunderstanding with pitching coach Mark Wiley. Ponson gave up five runs against the Cardinals, raising his ERA to 5.68.

"Every time I have a bad game, you guys start talking about my arm," Ponson told reporters.

Better late than never

Raymond Cabrera has stopped doing his Eddy Garabito impression.

Rather than miss the entire spring training because of visa problems, as Garabito did last year, Cabrera finally made it to camp yesterday - just in time to take his orthopedic examination and head to the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla.

Because Cabrera lost his passport, he couldn't get out of the Dominican Republic any sooner. He had no shot at making the team, but at least the coaching staff could have become more familiar with him.

"I missed spring training. This is my first time. That's really bad," said Cabrera, an outfielder who batted .276 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 61 games at Double-A Bowie last season.

Difference a year makes

A year ago, pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was worried about being called into the manager's office and told to report to the minor-league complex. It wasn't until the team went to Atlanta for a final preseason gamethat Lopez found out he'd be on the Opening Day roster. The news came as such a relief, he almost couldn't speak.

Job security hasn't been an issue with Lopez this spring. Not only is he assured of making the staff, he's starting the first game.

"It means a lot to me," said Lopez, who's allowed four runs in 18 innings. "It's probably the best thing that's happened to me my whole career. It didn't even happen to me in the minor leagues."

Lopez is scheduled to be matched up against Cleveland Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia. Hargrove is leaning toward starting both B.J. Surhoff and Marty Cordova against Sabathia rather than going with a platoon, which would have put the left-handed-hitting Surhoff on the bench.

Sun staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.

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