Hurdle sees new version of Oquendo in Martinez

Hurdle sees new version of Oquendo in Martinez

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The past couple of years, Clint Hurdle would often talk wistfully of having his own Jose Oquendo, the versatile player who extended the bench of the 1986-95 St. Louis Cardinals by alternately filling in at every position on the field.

Hurdle may have finally found him.

Michael Martinez has played all over the infield and the outfield, and he is a fleet runner and a switch-hitter. If not earlier, Hurdle was likely smitten with the 5-foot-9 Dominican when he laid down two bunt hits in the same game on Wednesday.

"Yeah, he could," Hurdle said Thursday in response to whether Martinez could be his new Oquendo. "He's been fun to watch. He has moved all over the diamond, made two more nice plays again today [playing shortstop], he's put the ball on the ground, has hit sharply from both sides.

"He's a very versatile guy who has come in and had a very good camp to date."

Martinez, who has spent parts of the last three seasons with the Phillies and signed as a free agent with the Bucs on Dec. 18, is hitting .368 in 10 games. He is in camp as a non-roster invitee, a considerable obstacle since the Pirates' 40-man roster is full.

When Pittsburgh claimed Brent Morel on waivers earlier this month, the club had to clear room for him by designating infielder Chase d'Arnaud for assignment. The Pirates were able to retain d'Arnaud when he passed through waivers, but adding anyone else would again raise the same risk.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.