Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned on Sunday amid reports that he had abused players physically and verbally.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Martinez called out players for not picking up balls they hit in the batting cage. Picking up balls in the cage is standard practice according to the 45-year-old Martinez.
After seeing players repeatedly refuse to pick up balls Martinez confronted them. While the former first basemen admits to vulgarity he says he did not grab second baseman Derek Dietrich by the neck as reports have suggested.
Martinez said he decided to speak out after talking with friends. “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.”
Disputes with the Marlins players — Dietrich, 24; infielder Chris Valaika, 27; and outfielder Justin Ruggiano, 31 — all occurred in the same fashion.
The issue with Dietrich occurred shortly after he was placed on the Marlins active roster. Martinez relays the following story.
“I go, ‘Derek, help us pick the balls up,’” Martinez recalled. “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——- part of this team, pick the f—— balls up right now. Pick the f—— balls up. I’m tired of your s—.’ I probably pushed him backwards. That was it.”
Martinez contends that Tim Smith, a batting-practice pitcher with the Marlins, witnessed his altercation with Dietrich and confirmed that Martinez did not grab the 24-year-old by the neck. It was not an issue until the Marlins optioned Dietrich to the minors on July 22.