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Jeff A

Twins Birthdays--May 31

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Tippy Martinez (1950)
Ray Olmedo (1981)

Left-handed reliever Felix Anthony “Tippy” Martinez appeared in three games for the Twins in 1988. Born and raised in La Junta, Colorado, he and Mike Oquist, whose birthday was yesterday, are the only two major league players born in that town. He went to Colorado State and signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1972. He was primarily a reliever in the minors other than 1975, when he started 14 games for AAA Syracuse. He pitched very well in the minors, posting ERAs under three in both 1973 and 1975. He made his big-league debut in 1974 and came up to stay in mid-July of 1975. He was almost exclusively a reliever in the majors, making only two big league starts, both in 1975. He did a fine job for the Yankees, but was traded to Baltimore in mid-June of 1976 as part of a ten-player trade that included numerous good ballplayers. He did a fine job with the Orioles as well, pitching well every year from 1976-1983 with the exception of 1978. He was never “the closer” for Baltimore, but had double digit saves in five consecutive seasons from 1980-1984 with a high of 21 in 1983. That was probably his best season, as he pitched the most innings (103.1), his lowest ERA (2.35), and his lowest WHIP (1.09). He also made the all-star team that year. He started to slip in 1984; his ERA was still below four, but his WHIP soared to 1.53. He had a poor 1985, struggled in 1986, and was released in June of 1987. Martinez was out of baseball the rest of that year, but signed as a free agent with the Twins on April 4, 1988. It did not work–he pitched in three games, lasted four innings, and gave up eight runs on eight hits and four walks. After that, his playing career was over. Martinez is best remembered for a game in 1983 in which he picked off three baserunners in an inning with emergency catcher Lenn Sakata behind the plate, but he was an excellent relief pitcher for several years. Tippy Martinez was the pitching coach for York in the Atlantic League from 2006-2009, but was not retained in that position for 2010. At last report, Tippy Martinez was living in Towson, Maryland. There is a city park named after him in his home town of La Junta.

Infielder Rainer Gustavo Olmedo has not played for the Twins yet, but he is in their minor league system in 2013. Born and raised in Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, he signed with Cincinnati as a free agent in 1999. He was never a great hitter in the minors, but after a decent start in AA in 2003, and after a quick stop in AAA that same year, Ray Olmedo was called up to the Reds in late May and stayed the rest of the season as a utility infielder. He was up and down with the Reds through 2006, never getting a full season in the majors but always getting some time there. He had some decent years in AAA, although certainly nothing to get excited about. In the majors, though, he was pretty much a zero offensively, hitting .230 with an OPS of .573. He was waived after the 2006 season and claimed by Toronto. He continued to be the same player in 2007; decent but nothing special in AAA, and basically nothing at all in the majors. After that, he started moving around a lot. He was waived by Toronto on Feb. 1, 2008 and claimed by Pittsburgh; waived again at the end of February and claimed by Philadelphia, then released a month later and signed by Washington for whom he played in AAA in 2008. He was in AAA with Tampa Bay in 2009, signed with Texas for 2010 but was traded to Milwaukee before the season started and was in AAA for them, was back in AAA for Tampa Bay in 2011, and signed with the White Sox for 2012. In all that time he remained pretty much the same player he had always been, but despite that he found himself back in the majors for the last two months of 2012. A free agent after the 2012 season, he signed with Minnesota and is, once again, playing in AAA, this time in Rochester. I don’t mean to sound too harsh about him. He has played in 218 major league games, and there are not many people who can say that. Who knows, he may even play in some more before he’s done, because for whatever reason, someone always seems willing to sign him and send him to AAA. But in those 218 major league games, he has hit .230, has an OPS of .566, and has an OPS+ of 50. He’s basically the Drew Butera of middle infielders, and there’s really no reason, other than a catastrophic run of injuries, that he should ever be on a major league roster again.
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