Years ago, while Edgar Martinez was doing an interview at Safeco Field hours before a game against Baltimore, Roberto Alomar interrupted to give him a big hug.
“This man,” Alomar said, pointing at Martinez, “is the best right-handed hitter in baseball. Everyone in the game knows it.”
On Wednesday, Alomar went into the Hall of Fame on his second year of eligibility – a flashy second baseman with all the skills you’d expect of a 12-time All-Star. Edgar? His voting percentage dropped from 36.2 percent in 2009 to 32.9 percent in 2010 – well short of the 75 percent required for induction.
“I’d love to see the percentage go up instead of down,” Martinez said from his Kirkland business office. “That’s not what you want to see in second year. I didn’t have very high expectations. That’s my approach.”
Along with Alomar, pitcher Bert Blyleven, on his 14th try, and former Seattle executive Pat Gillick will be enshrined July 24.
On the field, Martinez batted .312 with a career on-base percentage of .418 playing for the Seattle Mariners.
Yes, he spent much of his career as a designated hitter, and was so successful at the job that baseball named its DH of the Year award for him. That was nearly as impressive as Alomar’s acknowledgement.
“I remember Robby saying that, and at the time I felt the same way about him – he could beat you so many ways,” Martinez said. “I’m happy for him. He was a great player, and that was a great compliment, coming from him.”
And the decline in his own numbers among Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters?
“Totally out of my control,” he said. “I know some hold the DH argument against me. Maybe in time that will change. The years I played, I did the best I could every day. I tried to be the best hitter in the league every year. A lot of years I was in the top 10.”
Other notable voting results had steroids era sluggers Mark McGwire getting 19.8 percent (down from 23.7 percent), Rafael Palmiero 11 percent and Juan Gonzalez just over the 5 percent needed to remain on the ballot.
Jeff Bagwell got 41.7 percent in his first year.
Barry Larkin got 62.1 percent off the vote, and Jack Morris got 53.5 percent.
AROUND THE HORN
Adrian Beltre is returning the American League West after agreeing to a $96 million, six-year contract with the Texas Rangers. The third baseman spent 2005-2009 with the Mariners. He was an All-Star with Boston in 2010, batting .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBI.
Shortstop Cesar Izturis has finalized a $1.5 million, one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .230 in 150 games last season, but he is likely to share the position with J.J. Hardy this season.
Milwaukee and reliever Takashi Saito finalized a one-year, $1.75 million contract that gives the right-hander a chance to earn $1.5 million in performance bonuses. A person familiar with negotiations says the Red Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Tony Peña Jr.