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After Tino Martinez resigns, Marlins name John Pierson interim hitting coach

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Amid allegations from several Marlins players that hitting coach Tino Martinez resorted to both physical and verbal abuse, the former Yankee star resigned from his position. John Pierson was named the interim hitting coach. Pierson had been serving the team as the organization’s Minor League field director.

Martinez had offered to resign when the organization was made aware of the complaints, but owner Jeffrey Loria stunningly gave a vote of confidence to his hitting coach. It was only when the allegations went public that Martinez stepped down. “It has been building for a few days,” Martinez said. “I didn’t know this was going to come out publicly. When this came out, I thought it was the right thing to do.”

As Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel describes it, Martinez had a controversial style, engaging in disagreements with manager Mike Redmond along with a physical engagement with rookie second baseman Derek Dietrich. The allegations suggest Martinez had grabbed Dietrich by the neck, but Martinez firmly denied any such action, saying, “I want to say that I never physically touched anyone by the neck. That never happened.”

Martinez sounds legitimately apologetic about his actions. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:

“I just thought with some young players, you needed to be a little firmer and try to get them on the right track,” Martinez said. “Obviously, I made a mistake, and I apologize for that too. I apologize to the Marlins’ organization, my family and everyone involved.”

To his credit, Redmond was rational about the situation as well, empathizing with the difficulties Martinez faced as a new coach following a 16-year playing career:

“Coaching is tough,” Redmond said. “I know that going from a player to a coach, it’s hard. Part of the grind is learning how to deal with different situations with different players and personalities. All of that stuff is a challenge. Some people can do it. Some people can’t.

“At the same time, too, we need those guys. That’s the show. Those 25 guys out there, they’re the ones who go out there and perform. Our job is to keep them going. That’s the important thing.”

For the Marlins, it’s another blemish on a very blemished record. After opening up a $634 million new stadium last year, the Marlins boasted a payroll north of $100 million, $40 million more than it had been at its highest point dating back to 2000. Quickly, though, after the team fizzled, Loria traded away the same free agents he had signed to rich, lengthy contracts as free agents, and sent away some of the organization’s homegrown stars as well, such as Hanley Ramirez. They opened up the 2013 season with a $50 million payroll. On average, the Marlins are averaging about 11,000 fewer fans per game than they were last year. Their latest misstep won’t help bring any more fans to the ballpark.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.