Former Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez spoke out Monday night about the allegations of verbal and physical abuse that led to his resignation over the weekend, stating that the incidents in question involved him confronting three players in separate instances about not following the "standard practice" of picking up baseballs after a hitting drill.
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Martinez admitted that the arguments grew heated and that he grabbed one player, infielder Derek Dietrich, by the jersey, but denied ever grabbing anyone by the neck, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The regular-season altercations reportedly began with infielder Chris Valaika, who, according to Martinez, would not help pick up baseballs after teammate Juan Pierre hit in the cage. Martinez said he was angered that a journeyman infielder like Valaika wouldn't help a veteran, so he confronted him about it:
"I decide I’m going to tell him something: ‘Hey Chris, help us pick up the balls.’ And he goes, ‘Why should I? I didn’t hit ‘em.’ And I said, ‘Pick up the balls, you’re part of this team.’ And he goes, ‘But I didn’t hit ‘em.’
"So, I got in his face and I said, ‘Pick up the f------ balls. You’re part of this f------ team.’ I got in his face and said it kind of angrily. And he picked up the balls."
The confrontations with Dietrich and outfielder Justin Ruggiano followed a similar pattern of Martinez getting upset following drills then confronting the players, but things got a bit more animated with Dietrich.
Martinez attests that he grabbed the rookie infielder by the jersey and "probably pushed him backwards" during their altercation early in the season, but Dietrich told a different story when he was sent back to the minors last week. The infielder reported that Martinez grabbed him by the neck during the altercation, which Martinez seems to have been blindsided by:
"Derek, a day after he gets sent to the minor leagues, decides to say, ‘Tino grabbed me by the throat two months ago,’" Martinez said. "This came out of nowhere. We were working together for two months, fine."
Though it was well after the fact, the players' union was notified of the incidents and contacted the commissioner's office, demanding action from the Marlins. Martinez resigned his post on Sunday.
Since his resignation, more players have spoken out about Martinez's tactics, with one player stating (anonymously) that his "intimidation" approach has been a "problem from Day 1." Reports of confrontations with other players have also surfaced, including one about Martinez challenging first baseman Casey Kotchman to a fight.
Martinez says that he apologized to the Marlins, but that he really had no idea why he was apologizing, which indicates that he has little to no remorse about the way he handled things in his short time with the club.