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.