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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.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.