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Martinez in spotlight as Hall momentum builds

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

LAS VEGAS -- While early returns are most promising for Edgar Martinez in his final push for being elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this winter, the Mariners aren't taking anything for granted.

So it was that Martinez, not one for self-promotion, found himself making the rounds Monday at the Winter Meetings with appearances on MLB Network, ESPN, MLB radio and other media outlets gathered at the Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort.

LAS VEGAS -- While early returns are most promising for Edgar Martinez in his final push for being elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this winter, the Mariners aren't taking anything for granted.

So it was that Martinez, not one for self-promotion, found himself making the rounds Monday at the Winter Meetings with appearances on MLB Network, ESPN, MLB radio and other media outlets gathered at the Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort.

At the urging of Mariners vice president of communications Tim Hevly, the unassuming Martinez made himself available to do something he normally avoids, which is talking about himself.

"It's something that is not in my nature," Martinez acknowledged between broadcast sessions. "I don't think that will ever change. But I'm here, and we might as well try it and see if it helps. Tim has recommended it, and it's good to be able to come out and just see if it can help at the end over the next few weeks."

Video: Martinez on Cooperstown eligibility, playing career

Martinez appears to have momentum on his side in his 10th and final year of eligibility in the Baseball Writers' Association of America election process. Last year he was named on 70.3 percent of the ballots, falling just shy of the needed 75 percent.

But he's been named on all 32 ballots made public this year through Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame tracker, including six voters who did not include him last season.

Clearly Martinez won't maintain that 100 percent approval rate, and it's still a very small sample out of the expected 400-plus voters, but the trend is certainly positive. Martinez said he's not following too closely but has gotten updates from his wife, Holli.

"So far, it's looking good," Martinez said. "Votes are coming in, and they're very positive. Hopefully it keeps going that way. Some people have changed their mind and now are voting for me. That is the exciting part."

Video: A look at Edgar Martinez's first and last home runs

It all could get very exciting for the low-key 55-year-old by the time the results are announced on Jan. 22, prior to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 21.

If Martinez gets in, he'll join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only Hall of Famers who spent the majority of their careers with the Mariners. But Martinez insists he's maintaining his normal approach to the whole affair.

"The whole time, I tell myself I don't have any control and that's very helpful," he said. "As it gets closer, obviously you start thinking about the possibility that it could happen, or it might not. At this point, I'm ready for either case.

"I have plenty of time to prepare for that, so at this point, so far, I feel pretty at ease with it. Votes are coming in, but it's still early. I don't know how it's going to feel later, but so far, no change in the way I feel. I'm looking forward to seeing what is going to happen."

Video: Edgar Martinez talks 18-year career with Mariners

Another positive, in Martinez's mind, was the election of former designated hitter Harold Baines by the Veteran's Committee, which is another way for players and executives to reach the Hall of Fame after not being elected by BBWAA voters.

Baines never reached more than 6.1 percent on the BBWAA ballot after a career in which he posted a .289/.356/.465 line with six All-Star selections and a 38.7 bWAR, with 1,643 of his career 2,830 games coming at designated hitter.

Video: MLB Tonight on Baines entering the Hall of Fame

Martinez played 1,403 of his 2,055 career games at DH, which some voters have held against him, but he had far superior numbers to Baines with a career .312/.418/.515 line with a 68.4 bWAR and seven All-Star appearances.

Martinez was pleased for Baines and doesn't figure it hurts his cause, either.

"That is cool," he said. "Harold Baines is well deserved. He was a great hitter for many years. He was one of the players that we feared late in the game, one of the best clutch hitters I've ever seen. That should help my case, as well."

Not so cool, for Martinez, was learning this his former manager, Lou Piniella, came up one vote shy of getting elected by the same committee when he earned 11 of the 16 votes. Piniella won't get another shot until the same Today's Game Era Committee votes again in 2021.

"That was sad to hear that he missed it by one vote," Martinez said. "But for his next year, it looks pretty good, I think. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and I believe he's going to be there."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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