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The message that Marlins’ hiring of Terry Collins sends

The team’s community initiatives promoting health and well-being ring hollow when they’re willing to associate with Collins.

Newly hired baseball advisor Terry Collins wears a Marlins hat and sunglasses while attending 2023 Spring Training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, FL Kevin Barral/Fish Stripes

It’s been a busy offseason for the Miami Marlins. They started off slow, trading for minor league shortstop Xavier Edwards and signing former Rockies utility man Garrett Hampson to a minor league deal. But with the turn of the new year, the stove was hot.

Veteran infielder Jean Segura agreed to a 2-year, $17 million contract and veteran pitcher Johnny Cueto inked a 1-year, $8.5 million deal with the Fish. Then, in arguably the team’s biggest offseason move, they traded starting pitcher Pablo López to the Minnesota Twins for infielder and batting champ Luis Arraez. The organization then worked to strengthen the bullpen, adding Matt Barnes and A.J. Puk to the roster.

All in all, I like these moves and believe they make the Marlins a better team than they were last year. I’d love them even more if the three teams above Miami in the NL East didn’t take their own steps forward—that’s a story for another day.

Last Thursday, however, the Marlins made a personnel move that angered me significantly by hiring former manager Terry Collins as a baseball consultant for the 2023 season. He’s been a daily fixture at their Spring Training workouts being held in Jupiter.

In order to understand my frustration, let me back up a bit.

The trial against the former Los Angeles Angels employee convicted of providing Tyler Skaggs with the drugs that led to the pitcher’s death occurred about a year ago. Multiple former Angels players were called on as witnesses in the trial, including pitcher Matt Harvey.

As was reported at the time, Harvey testified under oath that he occasionally provided Skaggs with painkillers and admitted to his own drug use during his time with the Angels in 2019. The league later handed down a 60-game suspension to Harvey.

So what does this have to do with Terry Collins? It had nothing to do with him. That was, until Collins decided to unnecessarily insert himself into the situation by disclosing personal medical details to the New York Post.

Collins was the manager of the New York Mets when Harvey made his MLB debut in 2012. The former All-Star pitcher had a rocky time with the Mets, helping them reach the World Series in 2015 but also missing extensive time because of injuries and off-the-field struggles.

After Harvey’s testimony, Collins took it upon himself to speak with Mike Puma of the New York Post about very personal health information that led to the pitcher seeking medical treatment. I wrote in detail about this situation for Pitcher List last year, so I won’t rehash the whole thing here. What I will say, however, is that his actions are inexcusable.

Fittingly enough, that same reporter first said that the Marlins were interested in bringing Collins on as a consultant. Seeing this angered me, and I immediately fired off a tweet that I still stand by today:

As a lifelong Marlins fan and vocal advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, I’ve been impressed by the organization’s commitment to mental health advocacy in the community.

In 2021, the team expanded their mental wellness program, Great Minds—Great Athletes, to serve student-athletes at 27 Miami-Dade County Public Schools. As I wrote at the time, the program aimed to nurture middle and high school students’ mental and emotional well-being by teaching important social-emotional skills, supporting character development, and implementing mental wellness programs into the educational curriculum.

In May of 2022, Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers and outfielder Jesús Sánchez spoke at Hialeah Senior High School during an event promoting the mental wellness program. Rogers spoke to the students about his own struggles with mental health, how he began to overthink when alone at night and turned to journaling as a healthy outlet for those thoughts.

Speaking during a taped interview after the event according to The Athletic, Rogers said:

“It’s (about) giving students here an outlet, tools to use as far as their own mental health. I think it gets overlooked because the mind is something you can’t see. There’s no physical exercise that can help it. The best exercise is to talk to someone, write things down. Stuff like that will really improve your mental state.”

He went on to say that it’s normal to struggle with these things, telling the students that they aren’t alone in their struggles. “We have all gone through these tough times,” he said. “Just reach out to somebody or write it down.”

His words really struck a chord with me because hearing from successful athletes while I was struggling in high school would have made such a difference. If they were sitting in front of me saying it’s okay to talk to someone about these things, maybe I would have reached out for help sooner.

Seeing these initiatives made me proud to be a Marlins fan, but the hiring of Terry Collins has me wondering if this was ever genuine. I can’t reconcile the fact that the team promotes the health and well-being of its players, staff, and the community, but then hires someone that leaked very private details about a former player’s mental health to the press.

Would Trevor Rogers or those students feel comfortable being themselves or asking for help if they knew a coach or adult they were supposed to trust could turn around and divulge those details to a reporter? I know I wouldn’t.

Baseball has come a long way, but there’s still so far to go. There should be zero tolerance for somebody like Collins in a major league organization considering how he betrayed Harvey’s trust. A hiring like this one sets the game back, telling people that this type of behavior is excusable if you’re a bright baseball mind.