Notes: Martinez sharing his knowledge

Notes: Martinez sharing his knowledge with O's

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- One by one, they filed off the field and paid their respects to a living legend.

Baltimore's pitchers normally make a beeline from the field to the clubhouse when they're done with practice, but on Saturday, they stopped in the dugout to shake hands and talk to Dennis Martinez, the winningest Latin pitcher of all-time.

"It's a pleasure to talk to him. He's a Latin guy that people admire -- especially Latin American people," said Rodrigo Lopez, a Mexican-born starting pitcher. "I heard about him when I got here 12 years ago, and I heard about all the things he's done for baseball. When I met him, it meant a lot.

"He's the Latin pitcher with the most wins in the big leagues, and I'm pretty sure everybody knows [about] him."

El Presidente, who spent nine of his 22 seasons with the Orioles, has two different assignments for Baltimore this spring. First, he'll serve as a scout at the Puerto Rican locale of the World Baseball Classic. After that, he'll come back and pull on the uniform for his second straight season as a spring instructor with the O's.

"I've been away from professional baseball just to see my family and my kids playing in high school," said Martinez, who won 245 games in the big leagues. "I've been around the high-school level and college with my kids, and I'm enjoying it. But now, my last son is graduating, so I'm starting to feel the click to come back to baseball at the professional level."

Martinez has been away from the game for seven seasons, but he said he'd like to take a full-time job within Baltimore's organization. The team and the icon are still hammering out the details, but he'd likely fit in as a roving pitching instructor in the Minor Leagues. That would allow him to work his way back into the full-time grind of the game.

And it would also allow him to reach pitchers when they're still young and still receptive to listening to tales about old-school baseball. Martinez pitched his final season as a 43-year-old and walked away in 1998, before many of Baltimore's pitchers had even entered the game. Still, he pitched in two World Series and went through lots of success and adversity along the way.

"He's the type of person that likes to share his knowledge," said Lopez. "He knows a lot of things about baseball, and he's been through different experiences through all those years he pitched in the big leagues. He's been up and down -- in difficult situations and in very good situations.

"He always tries to share all those experiences -- how he felt back then and how he got through certain situations. All the people here know what he's done for baseball, and they look at him as an icon."

Tribute: Elrod Hendricks, who spent 37 years with Baltimore's organization as a player and coach, had his No.44 painted on the wall Friday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Hendricks passed away in December, days after appearing as Santa Claus at Baltimore's holiday party for inner-city students.

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"It hits home very dearly for all of us," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "I can still hear Elrod talking. When you talk about missing someone, I envision looking down and seeing Elrod in the bullpen down here. It's a tremendous void for us."

Perlozzo was also asked about the team's plans to honor Hendricks at Camden Yards, but he said he didn't know what the organization had in store.

"I have total confidence that the ballclub is going to handle that situation as professionally and properly as warranted," he said. "Whatever that is, I'm going to be totally behind it."

No rain: The Orioles got a practice in despite foreboding gray skies on Saturday, a fact that pleased Perlozzo. It had rained for much of Friday night and some of Saturday morning in Fort Lauderdale, lending some uncertainty to the day's plans.

"We didn't think we were going to get out there on the field today," he said. "The grounds crew did a great job. We were able to get our throwing in, our hitting in and some ground-ball work. We had a productive day out of something we didn't think was going to get there."

Quotable: "Spring is spring. I don't how many times you've seen hitters come out of here hitting .400, hot as a firecracker, [then] start off 0-for-10. It's different when the bell rings." -- Perlozzo, talking about the peril of evaluating players based on their Spring Training stats

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.