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.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?