Marlins hitting coach Martinez resigns
MIAMI -- Tino Martinez resigned as Marlins hitting coach on Sunday afternoon, following the release of published reports that outlined patterns of verbally abusive behavior by the 45-year-old former big league first baseman.
Martinez was in his first season as an MLB hitting coach, and he admitted his temper at times got the best of him.
Early Sunday evening, the Marlins announced that field director John Pierson was named interim hitting coach.
Like the rest of the staff, Martinez had the difficult task of working with a youthful Miami squad, which improved to 40-63 on Sunday after a 3-2 win over the Pirates at Marlins Park.
As the game was winding down, the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel came out with stories detailing Martinez being at odds with manager Mike Redmond, the staff and a number of players.
"We've accepted Tino Martinez's resignation as hitting coach, postgame today," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "We will get back to you in short order on a replacement. That's all we have."
Martinez reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Marlins. But he said that the contract is now void.
"First of all, I want to apologize to the Marlins' organization for my behavior," Martinez said. "I want to state that I never physically grabbed anyone by the neck. That never happened. I have made some comments to some players at certain times that I thought was more constructive criticism on certain occasions.
"Obviously, they didn't feel that way, and it kind of backfired on me."
There was a report that in the batting cage in early May, Martinez grabbed prospect Derek Dietrich by the neck. Martinez says he clutched the 24-year-old's jersey, but he didn't put his hands on the second baseman's neck.
"I think I was frustrated at times with the way players were behaving," Martinez said. "There were certain ways they were doing things. When I asked them to do something and they wouldn't do it, whatever it may be, I thought the way to do it was by being firm with them. I probably used some four-letter words. I thought I was doing the right thing, but obviously, I wasn't."
Regarding the Dietrich incident, Martinez added: "The only thing I've done, I did grab Dietrich in the cage one day by his jersey. I never grabbed him by his neck. It's very important that I get that out there. There was a witness in the cage that day who will attest to that.
"If for anything else, for his parents, I want them to know that. I have a 20-year-old son, and I would be very upset if somebody grabbed my son's neck. That never happened."
According to reports, Martinez had issues with his temper dating back to Spring Training, when he had verbal spats with a number of players, including Chris Valaika and Casey Kotchman.
Another time in Spring Training, Martinez reportedly scolded Minor League infielder Matt Downs in front of Minor League hitting coordinator Greg Norton.
"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."
For a few days, Martinez's situation has been brewing. On Friday afternoon, Redmond met for several hours with management regarding the hitting coach situation.
Martinez reportedly was ready to hand in his resignation after a series of incidents were brought to upper management's attention. But at the time on Friday, owner Jeffrey Loria did not accept the resignation in hopes of working other options out.
Once news of his incidents were made public, Martinez said it was the right thing to step away.
"It's obviously the right thing to do," Martinez said. "[Loria] thought there were other options. But, no, that's the right thing to do, and I agree."
The Marlins have been making steady improvements after they were 14-41 in April and May.
The team is 26-22 since then, but ranks last in the Major Leagues in runs scored (328) and home runs (62) and a number of other important offensive categories.
Before joining the Marlins, Martinez spent five seasons as a special assistant with the Yankees. As a player, he enjoyed a 16-year career, and he was part of four World Series championship teams in New York.
Redmond and the staff have the task of being patient with youthful players learning how to adapt in the big leagues.
"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."
At his resignation news conference on Sunday, Martinez was asked if he has issues with his temper.
"I don't think so," he said. "These are all separate occasions. I thought I was correct in the way I was doing things that were out of line. I didn't think they were doing things the right way. I just maybe overreacted. I should have handled it a whole different way.
"It's very difficult. I had a great opportunity here with Mr. Loria, the whole Marlins organization and the staff. The whole management staff have been awesome to me. It's a great young team. This team is going to be very good in the future, in the second half of the season and the future. It's going very well here. The fans have a lot to look forward to."