ST. LOUIS - Richie Martin is used to waiting.
Through the injury rehab process. While on the Triple-A roster. And now, as a member of the Orioles taxi squad on the current road trip.
The Orioles decided against selecting Martin’s contract yesterday, choosing to recall Rylan Bannon and giving him the start at third base. Martin boarded the charter to Detroit following a 3-2 win over the Cardinals, unsure if he’d appear in his first major league game since Oct. 3, 2021 or eventually return to the Norfolk Tides.
The only information coming to Martin was the 12:30 a.m. phone call Wednesday morning instructing him to join the Orioles in St. Louis, where he’d be placed on the taxi squad. Something about a few injury concerns, but nothing else.
Infielder Ramón Urías and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle were day-to-day and a three-man bench was down to one healthy player. They expanded it to four yesterday and still only had catcher Robinson Chirinos available.
The Orioles might need Martin. They might not.
His flight didn’t come with a promise voucher.
Asked what it’s like trying to remain patient and focus on his at-bats and infield responsibilities at Norfolk, Martin replied, “It’s not trying, you have to.”
“Just going day by day,” he said. “I can’t get ahead of myself. Just staying in the moment, going day by day and just waiting for the opportunity.”
Martin has appeared in 21 games with Norfolk and batted .282/.351/.447 with seven doubles, two triples and a home run. The Orioles caught him while he was hot, with nine hits in 22 at-bats this month.
“It’s nothing in particular. Just working,” he said.
“God’s been good. He’s kept me healthy. And just been working really hard. Hopefully, it continues.”
Health is a major hurdle for a player who keeps landing on the injured list due to some freakish occurrences.
Since the Orioles selected him in the 2018 Rule 5 draft, Martin has fractured his right wrist diving back into first base on an attempted pickoff in an intrasquad game, undergone surgery in January 2021 to remove a broken hamate bone, and fractured his left wrist later in the year while crashing into the center field fence with Norfolk.
“Staying on the field is one of the most important things. That’s something I’m adamant about, is staying healthy and being able to go out and play,” he said.
“In my eyes, that’s part of baseball. A lot of this game is out of your control. With that being said, I just try to control what I can and focus on things that I can. At the end of the day, things happen and you just have to respond effectively.”
The Orioles removed Martin from the 40-man roster, and their top prospects include infielders Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and César Prieto. He hears the chatter about them, respects their draft and international signing statuses and refuses to let it worry him.
“There’s no time to think about things like that,” he said. “Baseball is crazy, as you know. Anything can happen. I have to focus on myself and do what I can to perform.
“I wish the best for everybody that I’m around - my friends, my teammates - but I have to focus on doing my thing.”
The Orioles begin a three-game series in Detroit unsure if they’ll have Mountcastle, Urías, Rougned Odor and Austin Hays available to play. Just another day in paradise.
Mountcastle is receiving treatment for a sore left wrist and Urías has some lingering discomfort in his abdomen. Manager Brandon Hyde wanted to avoid using Odor, who’s been battling through a sinus issue. And Cardinals pitcher Génesis Cabrera stepped on the back of Hays’ left hand while recording an out in the seventh inning, causing lacerations that put the outfielder’s status in question.
The Orioles might need Martin.
They might not.
He’ll just wait it out.