Tino Martinez snapped and threw tantrums when Marlins players didn't pick up baseballs.
That's the gist of a story [read here] posted this morning by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports in which Martinez gives his version of events that led to Sunday's resignation. Martinez said he became angry when Marlins players Justin Ruggiano, Chris Valaika and Derek Dietrich didn't pick up baseballs in the batting cage -- a common baseball courtesy -- when the former hitting coach asked them to.
"True," a source said of Martinez's version of events. "And it makes him sound crazy."
As he did in his Sunday post-resignation press conference, Martinez acknowledged he directed profanity-laced anger toward players and grabbed Dietrich by the jersey. He also added a new detail to the Dietrich incident: "I probably pushed him backwards."
"Do you realize I'm basically out of baseball basically because a couple of players didn't pick up balls in the cage when I asked them to?" Martinez told Rosenthal.
Well, Martinez's anger issues didn't stem solely from players not picking up baseballs. Martinez confirmed a South Florida Sun-Sentinel story in which Martinez challenged injured first baseman Casey Kotchman to a fight when he questioned the player about the injury ("That's probably the one I regret," Martinez said in the Fox Sports story. "I shouldn't have done that. I felt bad about doing that."). Martinez also acknowledged a run-in with Matt Downs in spring training that had nothing to do with not picking up baseballs. Downs was taking advice from another hitting coach, Greg Norton. That's what caused Martinez to erupt that particular time.
And Ruggiano disputed Martinez's contention that he refused to pick up baseballs.
“Tino and I had an incident in the batting cage on Opening Day that had nothing to do with picking up baseballs,” Ruggiano told The Herald after reading the Rosenthal story. “I’ve never had an issue picking up baseballs -- or picking up (helping) guys who need to run off and do other things. After that incident, we had no other problems.”
It's unimaginable to think that the Marlins are the only team in the majors whose players don't like picking up baseballs -- if, in fact, that's the case -- or that Marlins players have lousy etiquette because they received poor instruction. Ruggiano, Valaika and Dietrich are all relative newcomers to the organization, as are Kotchman and Downs. They received most of their baseball training elsewhere.
Nor, probably, is Tino Martinez the first major league hitting coach driven to anger and frustration by players not following orders or heeding advice, as he says.
He's just the first one that we know about who lost his job because of it.