In his first year as hitting coach, Tino Martinez could not have possibly imagined that serving as the batting instructor for a big league club would be a such a consistent challenge on a daily basis.
Martinez joined Miami's staff after a stint with the New York Yankees, during which he served as the Special Assistant to the General Manager. He accepted the job in Miami the second time the position was offered to him.
April was a struggle for the Marlins offensively. They had a hard time scoring runs, and hitting with runners in scoring position. Halfway through May, that trend has continued.
"We've got some guys in there that in the past they've been able to get it done. Right now they're not," manager Mike Redmond said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. "I'm trying to be patient, I've been patient. But at the end of the day somebody's got to step up and get a hit with guys in scoring position."
Miami's poor hitting throughout April was the primary cause of the poor start. The starting rotation was consistent throughout the month, as Kevin Slowey, Ricky Nolasco, and rookie Jose Fernandez all pitched well enough to win games.
During the off season, the Marlins purposely brought in several proven veterans who they thought would guide some of the younger players on the roster. Outfielder Juan Pierre, third baseman Placido Polanco, and temporary first baseman and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs have all struggled of late. Despite leading the team in home runs and runs batted in, Justin Ruggiano's bat has been cold as well.
"We're just not getting it done. That's really it. I don't know to dress it up any more than that," Redmond said.
Redmond, who was hired because of his ability to handle young talent, is one of several people who have supported the organization's decision to promote top prospects such as Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich. Although they have been consistent at the plate since being called up, Ozuna and Dietrich are only a pair of batters in a lineup that has struggled for much of the year.
"Young guys come up, they bring energy," Redmond reasoned. "A lot of times those young guys can energize a group of guys the way they play."
Martinez has had his job cut out for him, and as long as Miami continues to be shutout (as they are averaging 2.8 runs a game), it will be a long season for the rookie hitting coach.