Tino Martinez speaks

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Ken Rosenthal has an exclusive interview with Tino Martinez, who recently resigned as the Marlins hitting coach amid allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive to players. It’s a fantastic interview in which Martinez does what people involved in clubhouse controversies rarely do: he says exactly what happened between him and the players who have accused him.

You need to read this in Martinez’s own words to get the full flavor — he provides a dialog-based play-by-play of the encounters — but the upshot is that Martinez, on two occasions, asked players to do something entirely reasonable — help other players pick up balls in the batting cage — only to have them pull some “why should I?” thing. Martinez said that he used profanity to correct the players’ behavior in both instances, and in one grabbed one of the players by the jersey and maybe pushed him back.

Now, that’s Martinez’s side of the story. It’s possible that the players involved have different stories and we can’t be 100% sure who is right without being there. And we can’t say whether or not Martinez’s acts were provoked or justified or, alternatively, whether they were out of bounds regardless of provocation.

But it’s fascinating that Martinez is opening up like this and well worth a read.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.