SEATTLE — Playing against the Orioles has to be viewed as just another game, Seattle Mariners infielder Robert Andino said before the teams' three-game series at Safeco Field kicked off.
And then, Monday night, Andino went out and played a key role in beating his old team — hitting an RBI single to give the Mariners a lead they never lost and handling nine balls for outs while starting at second base in Seattle's 6-2 victory.
Make no mistake: Andino, whom the Orioles traded to the Mariners this offseason for minor league outfielder Trayvon Robinson, wanted to remind his former organization what it gave up. But you'll never hear him say that.
"Past four years, I've been with them. Had a good relationship with them," Andino said of the Orioles and their players. "But you know it's in the past. We fool around and talk some mess, but you know it's business. You got to go out there and try to beat them."
Andino, 29, joined the Orioles in April 2009 in a trade with the Florida Marlins for pitcher Hayden Penn. In four seasons, he worked his way up to becoming a fixture on the Orioles roster, filling in at second base for the oft-injured Brian Roberts.
His RBI single to close the 2011 season and knock the Boston Red Sox out of the pennant chase — known as the "Curse of the Andino" — will forever be remembered by Baltimore's fans. He smiled when told he is part Orioles lore.
"It's cool. I did something for them," Andino said. "They showed me the love, so I'm good with it. I'm cool."
Andino said he couldn't choose one memory that was his favorite while with the Orioles — not even that game-winning hit.
"All of them, man. All of them," he said. "Baltimore is basically where I started my career. I got a lot of good memories in Baltimore."
Andino admitted that he was a "little bit" surprised when the Orioles traded him away in November, but said he couldn't let it faze him.
"It's always in the back of your mind in this game that anything can happen at any time. It is what it is," he said. "It's a baseball thing, you know. I mean, I'm in the big leagues. I'm here with a new team. Just don't really think about it too much."
In 16 games with the Mariners heading into Tuesday, Andino was batting .200 with three RBIs and four runs scored. He has started two games at third, five at second and six at shortstop. Last week, Seattle manager Eric Wedge said Andino had temporarily supplanted Brendan Ryan as the Mariners' starting shortstop.
Although Andino seems back to being in a super-utility role again, starting five of the last seven games, including two at second base with Ryan back at shortstop.
"So far, so good. I ain't complaining," Andino said. "Another day in baseball, so I'm happy with my new team. Just take it day by day."
Andino said he tries to keep in touch with some of his former teammates, namely center fielder Adam Jones. The two bonded during their four seasons together, and Jones said the infielder, his personality and his style of play are missed.
"He got to know a lot of guys in this clubhouse and this organization the last four years. He played his [butt] off for us for four years," Jones said. "He has always cared and played with passion. We miss him in the clubhouse, but it is a business."
Andino also has talked a couple times with Orioles manager Buck Showalter, whom he gives credit for helping him become a full-fledged major leaguer.
"I know he's a busy man and he's got a season in front of him. But yeah, me and Buck had a good relationship," Andino said. "I talked to him before [the year started] and thanked him for giving me the opportunity. Again, it is what it is. We're here. I don't know what day it is, but it's a new year."
Andino's offbeat sense of humor remains intact even if he is on a new coast. A Miami native who hates the cold, Andino joked that he was traded to "Alaska." And when asked if he keeps tabs on how the Orioles and his old teammates are playing, he said, "I got kids. I don't got no time to be checking out other people."
Overall, Andino said he is making the best of his new situation.
"You never know when you are going to get a fresh start," Andino said. "It could be good, could be bad. But I try not to think about the negatives and think about just the positives. And I'm all right."