Tino Martinez: I resigned because of Marlins brats

Former Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez. (MIKE EHRMANN/Getty Images/AFP)

Former Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez. (MIKE EHRMANN/Getty Images/AFP)

ANTHONY VASQUEZ-PEDDIE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

If only a few Miami Marlins players picked up balls in the batting cage, Tino Martinez might still be the team’s hitting coach.

Instead, the former 16-year big-league first baseman is out of a job after a handful of heated confrontations with players went public. Confrontations he said were meant to correct selfish behaviour.

In an interview with Fox Sports, Martinez revealed three separate incidents with three different Marlins – second baseman Derek Dietrich, infielder Chris Valaika and outfielder Justin Ruggiano – in which the players refused to help pick up balls either before or after a batting cage session. Martinez admitted using vulgarity with each of them.

“As a coach, when I asked them to pick up the balls, why didn’t they just say, ‘Absolutely, no problem, I’ll do it right now.’ ”

After having his reputation dragged through the mud after allegations of player abuse, Martinez decided to tell his side of the story.

“I started thinking about it, thinking I’ve got to say something, not just let it go away. I’ve had a great reputation in this game for years. I walked away from the game with integrity. But now, to have a couple of kids try to ruin my name, I felt I had to say something and fight back.”

The Miami Herald reported Sunday that Dietrich’s agent recently submitted a complaint to the Marlins, saying several months ago Martinez grabbed his client by the neck. Martinez apologized to the team and resigned later that day.

Martinez told Fox Sports, however, that he grabbed Dietrich by his jersey and not his neck.

“I go, ‘Derek, help us pick the balls up,’ ” Martinez said. “He goes, ‘Why, I didn’t hit ‘em.’ I said, ‘I don’t give a s--- if you didn’t hit ‘em, help us pick the balls up.’ He walked toward me, not angrily, and said, ‘Hey, I didn’t hit the balls, why should I pick ‘em up?’

“I grabbed his jersey and said, ‘Because you’re f---ing part of this team, pick the f---ing balls up right now. Pick the f---ing balls up. I’m tired of your s---.’ I probably pushed him backwards. That was it.”

Martinez said his confrontation with Dietrich was a one-time event and that the two worked well together afterward. It wasn’t until July 22 when Dietrich was sent down to the minors that the incident became an issue.

“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.”

Martinez said Tim Smith, a batting practice pitcher with the Marlins who witnessed the incident, confirmed the former coach’s account of the events with club officials.

The incidents with Valaika and Ruggiano followed similar patterns, without contact.

These weren’t, however, the only run-ins Martinez had with players.

Martinez admitted to a spring training confrontation with minor-league infielder Matt Downs for working with then-minor league hitting coordinator Greg Norton. Martinez said he was trying to help Downs make the team and wanted the youngster to hear a consistent message.

“I didn’t want another coach telling him something different from what I was telling him,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘What’s he telling you?’ He said, ‘This and this and this.’ And I said, ‘That’s the same thing I’m telling you.’

“I kind of did it in a frustrated way. ‘You don’t trust me as a hitting coach? If you don’t want to work with me, you don’t have to work with me anymore.’ ”

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel also reported that Martinez challenged Casey Kotchman to a fight. Martinez did not admit as much but confirmed a confrontation between him and the first baseman.

“That’s probably the only one I regret — he’s a good guy,” Martinez said. “I questioned his injury (strained left hamstring suffered April 5). I shouldn’t have done that. I felt bad about doing that.”

The Herald reported that a Marlins player said a number of teammates confronted Marlins manager Mike Redmond about Martinez this season, the 45-year-old’s first as a pro coach.

“It’s all shocked everybody,” the player said. “He uses intimidation. It’s been a problem since Day 1.”

Martinez maintained to Fox Sports these were isolated incidents.

“It was one day, it was one outburst (with each player). I had just bottled it up for so long.

“I had to say something. And that was it.”


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