Sunday, March 29, 2015

Michael Martinez returns to majors

Ultimately, the Phillies decided they needed insurance at shortstop. So Michael Martinez is a major-league player again.

Michael Martinez returns to majors

(David J. Phillip/AP file photo)
(David J. Phillip/AP file photo)

WASHINGTON — When the Phillies evaluated potential roster replacements for Chase Utley on Wednesday, team officials said a middle infielder was not a priority. Freddy Galvis, obviously, will assume the majority of Utley's at-bats. Kevin Frandsen can play second and third, so if a shortstop was required, Galvis could slide over.

Ultimately, the Phillies decided they needed insurance there. So Michael Martinez is a major-league player again.

Martinez, 30, was hitting .239/.306/.284 in 121 plate appearances for triple-A Lehigh Valley. That was just slightly better than his career majors line of .188/.241/.272 in 356 plate appearances. His .590 OPS was the worst among all current IronPigs position players.

But Martinez can play shortstop, and that is what earned him a promotion and a prorated $490,000 salary for however long he is present. Martinez was not on the 40-man roster, which is now full.

More coverage
VOTE: Is the Phillies’ pitching staff good enough?
VOTE: Is Cliff Lee's injury a big blow to Phillies?
Full Phillies TV schedule for spring training
POLL: Which longtime Phillie should stick around?
Follow the Phillies: Download our FREE Pro Baseball app!
Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates

The Phillies chose Martinez over Pete Orr, a veteran utility man who has limited experience at shortstop. (Orr is hitting .245/.290/.415 for a .705 OPS at triple A.) They decided there was no room for Darin Ruf, who is mired in a 3 for 31 slump with 12 strikeouts.

Yes, playing time would have been slim for Ruf. There are two opportunities Monday and Tuesday when the Phillies need a designated hitter at Fenway Park. But the Phillies are committed to their current outfield and Ruf is still learning left field.

It's fair to wonder if the 26-year-old Ruf will ever master the position. He likely projects as a major-league bench bat, which is nothing to scoff at, but the Phillies did not believe that role was best for him right now.

Martinez has the sixth-worst OPS in Phillies history among players with at least 350 plate appearances. The list:

1. Pete Childs .462 (1902)
2. Bert Adams .471 (1915-19)
3. Harry Pearce .499 (1917-19)
4. Joe Lonnett .505 (1956-59)
5. Ray Hamrick .506 (1943-44)
6. Michael Martinez .512 (2011-13)

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

About this blog

The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer's beat writers and columnists.

Jake Kaplan Inquirer Staff Writer
Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
Matt Breen Inquirer Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on
Stay Connected