Starting pitcher Dennis Martinez and reliever Tippy Martinez may not be brothers or cousins, but both are closely related to the prospects of the Baltimore Orioles. With lefthanded starter Mike Flanagan sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon until midsummer, Baltimore needs award-winning performances from Martinez & Martinez. Both had disappointing 1984 seasons—Dennis was 6-9 with a 5.02 ERA, Tippy 4-9 and 16 saves—and are overcoming serious hardships. Dennis is an admitted alcoholic who says proudly, "I haven't had a drink in 15 months." And Tippy is trying to rebound from a lingering shoulder injury. "I guess you can say that Dennis and I are both taking life one day at a time," says Tippy.
Baltimore had the second-lowest ERA in the league in '84 but were 118 runs shy of its 1983 production. Free-agent outfielders Lee Lacy and Fred Lynn were recruited to bolster a batting order in which first baseman Eddie Murray and shortstop Cal Ripken were feeling lonely. Only Lynn in center, Murray and Ripken are assured of full-time positions. Manager Joe Altobelli will have to be a master of platooning, especially with coach Frank Robinson peeking over his shoulder. Because Lacy is out for six weeks with torn ligaments in his right hand, switch hitter Mike Young will play rightfield against lefties and leftfield against righties. The alternate leftfielder will be Gary Roenicke, the other rightfielder Larry Sheets. At second will be Rich Dauer or Lenn Sakata, while Wayne Gross and rookie Fritz Connally will share third. In any given game, the catcher might be Rick Dempsey, Floyd Rayford or Joe Nolan. The DH situation, if you can believe it, is even more complicated.
Whoever, the offense will be improved. It's the O's traditionally sturdy pitching staff that is the question mark. "Even if you have a history of being strong in something, common sense tells you that eventually the bubble will burst," says Altobelli. "We're looking for [former Angel Don] Aase, a healthy Tippy and Dennis to fill in."
Aase from the right and Tippy from the left are expected to be the team's stoppers, with Sammy Stewart setting them up as the long reliever. Mike Boddicker (20-11), Storm Davis (14-9) and Scott McGregor (15-12) are the top three starters. D. Martinez is No. 4. "If Dennis doesn't pitch well, we don't make it," says catcher Dempsey.
Dennis was physically ready last year, but not mentally. "Alcohol was still number one in his life," says pitching coach Ray Miller. Dennis agrees: "I had doubts of recovery. If I pitched a bad game, I still had to fight drinking." Says Davis: "He used to be unapproachable, easy to offend and secretive. Now we drive to the ball park together. It's nice to know Dennis this way, finally." Martinez attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three to four times a week. "That's my new addiction," he says.
While Dennis was trying to get his head together last year, Tippy's arm was falling apart. Too much throwing and too little conditioning caught up with him. "It was also the stress of always coming into the game tied or one run back," says Miller. Tippy changed his ways after last season. He rested, worked out with weights and swam. "Last season, I kept begging my arm to make it through the pain," he says. "I should've gone on the DL, but I had too much pride."
Martinez & Martinez have acquired more than new mental outlooks. Over the winter Dennis learned to throw a forkball. "A new pitch for a new Dennis," he says. And Tippy showed up with a revived arm and a mustache. "I wanted to look older," he said, "and I've always wanted to do a Taco Bell commercial."