At first, it seemed that deposed Miami Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez, who had resigned over allegations of player abuse and aggressive behavior, was apologetic, if not a bit in disagreement with the accounts, about the circumstances of his resignation.
It would seem that his tone has changed a bit since then.
Martinez sat down with Fox Sports's Ken Rosenthal to discuss the situation, and among other things that were discussed, the topic of his supposed altercation with Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano came up. Martinez had something specific to say about that.
"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 said in the story.
Regarding Ruggiano, Martinez recalled an incident in Spring Training when the outfielder returned to the clubhouse without picking up baseballs hit in the cages off a machine. According to the report, someone else cleaned up the cage.
"So one day I confronted [Ruggiano] and told him how he was a terrible teammate, how he treated the players, how he was this and this and this," Martinez said to Rosenthal.
Naturally, Ruggiano responded, as reported by Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
Ruggiano on Tuesday responded: "I was disappointed in being called a bad teammate. That was between me and him. Our incident, between Tino and I, wasn't about picking up baseballs. I never had a problem about picking up baseballs. Never will. I'm just going to leave it at that."
You would expect Ruggiano to say this, but neither side sounds good in this case. If Ruggiano did indeed do this, it certainly is not a "good teammate" thing to do. But given what we have heard of other accusations made against Martinez, it is dificult to believe that he is telling the exact truth. It is possible that the reality of this situation is somewhere in between, and that Ruggiano did something to elicit Martinez's response, but that his response might have been more exaggerated than he described here.
No matter who is "more right" on either side, the important thing is that the Marlins are not interested in keeping a difficult, contentious coach among their staff. The Fish have very little going for them if not chemistry, and it seems like the clubhouse is at least happy and getting along. When all you are doing on the field is losing, the last thing you need is off-the-field and practice issues, especially with relatively impressionable players on the team. Why should the Fish endure an uncomfortably rough style of teaching when they can get a more nurturing appraoch that may not get in the way of clubhouse chemistry?
There is more than one way to skin a test, and if the Fish can have the choice, why not get the one that will not disrupt the team's enjoyment?
Tino Martinez may be right about the situation, but as stories continue to surface about his problems, it is clear that the franchise is probably best without his aggressive ways.