BY Art Thiel 06:57PM 11/12/2018

Update: Martin offers details, Mariners object

Mariners strongly deny allegations made by high-performance director Dr. Lorena Martin, fired Oct. 10, that officials made derogatory remarks about Latino players.

Dr. Lorena Martin was fired by the Mariners. / mlb.com

Well, that hire certainly didn’t go well.

Dr. Lorena Martin, seen a year ago as a cutting-edge figure, in the sport — the Mariners’ first director of high performance — was fired Oct. 10 and unleashed Monday a social media tirade against general manager Jerry Dipoto, blaming him for a culture that produced derogatory racial remarks she alleges were made by club officials about Latino players, and also firing Latino trainers at their Dominican Republic facility.

In an Instagram post, Martin wrote, “The Mariners organization has major issues. The things I’ve witnessed and heard first hand have left me shocked. How can their GM Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player development Andy McKay speak about their players like this. … Calling LATINOS LAZY, DUMB, and STUPID, especially the DOMINICANS

“And then they wondered why they didn’t make it to the playoffs. Leadership is to blame, under Jerry Dipoto’s leadership no team has made it to the playoffs and they will continue to miss the playoffs with him in his position. Poor leadership. It’s come to the point where I have to speak out because they are firing innocent trainers for trying to do the right thing and because of their color/race.”

The Mariners fired back in a statement Monday afternoon:

Lorena Martin was relieved of her duties with the Mariners on Oct. 10, 2018.

“While it is our policy to not comment on personnel issues, we do feel it is important to respond to the outrageous, false claims made by her today on social media. And to note that Martin did not make any of these false allegations until after she was relieved of her duties.

“The Mariners categorically deny that any member of our management or coaching staff made racist remarks regarding any of our players or staff. Additionally, we have not terminated (or threatened to terminate) any trainers during the off-season.”

Martin responded to beat writers on Twitter, saying the Mariners were negotiating a settlement of her three-year contract to “keep me quiet.”

Monday night, The News Tribune reached Martin by phone. She elaborated on what was said by whom.

In a meeting with Martin and McKay, the farm director,  in January, Dipoto called her a “cocky Latina.” In that same meeting, McKay said Dominican players are “just plain stupid” and, in a separate meeting, Servais told her that you don’t see Latino catchers or managers because “they aren’t bright enough. They are dumb.”

Martin said she reported these incidents in several meetings with the team’s human resources since spring training and to multiple Mariners staff members. She said she felt she was fired in retaliation for that. She also said she has hired an attorney and is seeking wrongful termination.

“It’s been torture,” she said. “I was kind of scared at times.”

Martin told of another episode at spring training about a disagreement with Dipoto over who had responsibility for mental skills training, her or McKay. Dipoto repeatedly punched a white board when she mental skills training was part of her contract.

“Just this really aggressive behavior to intimidate me,” Martin told the News Tribune. “And he says, ‘This is (expletive). You keep getting after Andy.’ I said it had nothing to do with Andy, it’s just in my contract. And he kept punching the wall in the office, like big time.

“And then he was like, ‘Walk with me.’ We go downstairs and he kicks a door open and says (expletive) . . . at that point I was just saying I’m trying to do my job and oversee the department I’m supposed to oversee.”

The Mariners late Monday night offered a denial to the Seattle Times about Martin’s recollections to the News Tribune.

“These are claims are not true. They are absolutely false and ludicrous. She is fabricating stories, including her reports to human resources and the people named in this story.  In at least one instance, there was a witness in the room that can confirm that the stories did not happen as she related they did.”

Prior to her Mariners hire, Martin, 38, worked as director of sports performance analytics for the NBA Los Angeles Lakers. She had a Masters degree in psychology from Nova Southeastern University, a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from the University of Miami, and three post-doctorates in spatial analysis, biostatistics, and epidemiology from the University of California-San Diego, and was fluent in Spanish.

In a Seattle Times story, Dipoto described his excitement about her hire, saying her qualifications and pioneering status in MLB made her  “the unicorn.”

In a club release after her hire, Dipoto was quoted as saying:

“Lorena’s background, skill set and previous experience make her a perfect match for what we envisioned. Major League Baseball has lagged behind many professional sports leagues, including the NBA, Premier Soccer and others, in using big data to assist in both injury prevention and peak performance.

“We are excited to better connect all of the services we currently provide to our players throughout the organization and add the information that Dr. Martin can reveal to better assist the team in staying healthy and, ultimately, winning more games.”

A Seattle Times story Monday said some players were slow to adapt to her recommendations, and consideration was being given to limiting her role in 2019 to the club’s training facility in Peoria, AZ., and the minor league system.


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YourThoughts

  • bugzapper

    Most of us have had girlfriends or boyfriends like that. It’s all fun and games til the honeymoon turns to just plain old mooning.

    • art thiel

      Not sure I get that.

  • Husky73

    In the words of Cosmo Kramer, “Well, that didn’t work.”

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Wow . Well , she certainly seems to have specific quotes and incidents recalled – nothing vague about it , which would seem to lend credence to her claims . But it seems hard to imagine that’s the culture in the organization and none of the other players or coaches haven’t made similar claims .

    If it’s true , it’s disgusting . The racial bias that’s come out of the closet since Trump was elected is reprehensible .

    • rosetta_stoned

      Yeah. Because there were no such racial incidents before Orange Man Bad came along.

      Weak sauce.

      • Theyfinallyfiredcable

        I wondered when you were gonna come back out of hiding , it’s been a while .

      • Husky73

        The White Russian.

      • Archangelo Spumoni

        Except for the notable increase in documented, proven, publicized, often-called-out-except-for-the “good-people-on-both-sides” fiasco, and other “incidents” since Drumpfh joyfully besmirched the entire place.
        Be honest–we started retreating during a particular administration when the guy in charge was guilty of PWB, e.g. Presidenting While Black?

        • art thiel

          Again, don’t connect dots that aren’t there.

      • art thiel

        Orange Man Bad?

        I like it. A MAGA original.

    • art thiel

      I wouldn’t connect anything to this episode until we know more.

  • 1coolguy

    Yet another mess in a joke of a franchise – The M’s have been the dregs for so long it is the norm. Want to sink into oblivion as a player? Go to the M’s. Their farm system has sucked for at least 15 years, and the only reason they picked up stellar talent like Griffey and A-Rod is because they were last place losers and got the 1st draft pick. Otherwise, their farm system had produced zilch.
    Why have they never picked up a Bean or Epstein 2nd in command? Their GM’s after Gillick are just a bunch of Clowns whose only “talent” appears to be to sign over the hill players to contracts so sizable the rest of the GM’s must think this is an asylum.
    The only feasible solution is for the team being sold to an entirely new group with NO connection to ANY prior M’s ownership or management. Even the new group is showing how inept they are, after what, 2 years?

    • art thiel

      Don’t paint Dipoto with the same brush as the others, although even if none of Martin’s claims are true, his hiring/handling of her and the job was a disaster.

  • jafabian

    With this news and from this past summer of Mariners executives being accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by three female employees I think it’s safe to say that the culture in the organization has problems right now. If the club is to offer full transparency I’m curious as to why Dr. Martin (I noticed the club didn’t refer to her as doctor in their press release.) and the trainers were released. I’m also curious if any of this played a role in Edgar stepping down. In defense of the Mariners though if they thought so poorly of Latinos Felix wouldn’t be here as long as he has.

    • art thiel

      I expect the Mariners feel obliged to clear all names publicly.

  • ReebHerb

    IMHO there are two issues. One is the charge Lorena Martin has proclaimed. The second is the validity of the science of high performance. I think she sold the Mariners a bill of goods without the goods. All of these programs of excessive lifting, stretching, diet, icing, massage, meditation, electrical stimulus, etc. may have benefit for a one off performance but don’t seem to work for a season of anything. When athletes pop muscles lifting a dinner fork, it’s over training and not bad luck.

    • Tian Biao

      agreed, regarding the ‘science’ of high performance: it sounds like the players didn’t really buy in. As for the rest of the allegations, who knows? I’d be very surprised if DiPoto said those things, but then again, I’ve been surprised before.

      • art thiel

        Lots of people didn’t buy in to the notion that smoking causes cancer.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Agreed.

    • art thiel

      The training she and others at her level engage in has more to do with psychological training, nutrition, rest and emotional balance. It’s legit. It works with many. The idea is to get athletes to perform at peak levels more often. Not too exotic for you, is it?

      • Al Wasser

        That training might help some players. But it’s interesting that many of the greatest players of all time had absolutely no “emotional balance.” They were obsessive (Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby). The nutrition and rest regimen of Babe Ruth, Grover Cleveland Alexander and Mickey Mantle would probably not be recommended by too many doctors either. These players may well have been the outliers, but it does seem that as baseball becomes more enamored with weight training and diet, more and more players spend weeks and weeks on the disabled list with pulled obliques. It makes me long for the days of Smoky Burgess, pushing 40 in both age and waist measurement, waddling up to the plate and hitting .300 as a pinch hitter.

      • tor5

        I can’t get a fix on her. On the one hand, U of Miami and UCSD are legit schools and spatial analysis, biostatistics, and epidemiology are rigorous disciplines. On the other hand, putting inflammatory words in all-caps is a sure sign of kookoo.

  • Tian Biao

    note to Mariners: next time you go looking for a unicorn, try to find some kid who can throw the ball 100mph over the outside corner.

    • art thiel

      They already found Diaz.

      How about a 3B who can hit .260 with 20 HRs 80 RBIs.

  • DB

    “It’s come to the point where I have to speak out”… (Although it wasn’t at that point when I still had a job there. Even though “it was torture “ and “I was scared at times”, I wasn’t going to resign and leave because of it.)

    • art thiel

      We don’t know enough, although I must say that her handling of her grievances was done exceptionally poorly.

  • WestCoastBias79

    It seems the Mariners are poised to take the baton from the Browns as the worst run North American professional sports franchise.

    • art thiel

      The Raiders are rallying.

  • Kirkland

    I stopped following the Mariners when they helped tank the street vacation. This is schadenfreude at its best.

    • art thiel

      Choose your target. They are plentiful.

  • Husky73

    High performance director….sabermetrics…exit velocity….WAR….blah, blah, blah….I gave it consideration because of Bill James’ Baseball Prospectus years ago (and today, he’s in trouble)…and now, meh. Do I really need to know the speed and distance between a dancer’s feet to enjoy the ballet? The soul killing metrics and high performance regimens have stolen the very heart of the game. Baseball went from a two hour pleasant interlude, to 3 1/4 hours of mind numbing paralysis. Plus, we have never had so many injured players as today. More dynamic weight training and stretching? Seemingly every pitcher’s resume includes Tommy John surgery (he should have gotten a cut from every procedure). Can the Mariners just find a catcher who doesn’t swing and miss and strike out 40% of the time? How about finding a $24 million man who doesn’t jog to first base? Can a dead pull hitter actually LEARN to go the other way, or should he just continue to ground out to short right field (when he’s not striking out)? Can the M’s locate a pitcher who doesn’t fall apart after 15 starts and 90 innings? How about signing someone who can actually make contact, hit and run, bunt and move a runner? Or start 3-5 everyday players who can hit .270 and above? But, maybe I’m wrong…maybe there aren’t enough meetings on the mound with gloves over their faces, signs from the catcher to the infielders, cheat sheets in players’ back pockets…maybe we need even more home runs and strikeouts (the M’s struck out 1,221 times in 2018), less contact and fewer balls in play?

    • Kevin Lynch

      Brilliant blog entry. Go to the head of the class! Excellent! I liked it; not being facetious.

    • bevdog

      Thank you Husky 73 for an excellent post. Spot on!!

      • Husky73

        Thank you Kevin and bev…I am humbled…but remain a peasant in Art’s kingdom…or Kingdome.

    • art thiel

      Not sure what this has to do with Lorena Martin’s claims, but I’m guessing you needed to vent about baseball. You’re welcome.

      • Husky73

        “Thanks for the vine.”

    • Earl (Skip) Foutch

      What’s most significant to me regarding the entire episode is how publicly it is being played out. I suppose I can understand the purpose behind Martin going public with her allegations, but find it curious that the Mariners would respond so thoroughly in public. Having the allegations investigated by MLB and then responding to its findings would seem to be a more appropriate path for dealing with this situation.

  • woofer

    Hard to tell what is happening here based on a few incendiary comments. But Martin’s assertion that “Servais told her that you don’t see Latino catchers or managers because “they aren’t bright enough. They are dumb.”” doesn’t appear credible on its face. There are lots of Latino catchers and a Latino manager just won the World Series. Servais would know that and surely avoid making such a palpably absurd observation, even if he were as biased as alleged.

    But still, the M’s front office has unresolved issues of sexism that were quietly swept under the rug, so Martin’s accusations can’t be dismissed out of hand. Last season’s collapse was a major disappointment and tempers have no doubt become frayed. The only thing we know for sure is that there will be no Lorena Martin Bobblehead Night scheduled anytime soon.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Hilarious, about the bobblehead. Actually…you might be on to something. Create the bobblehead and give them out to the first ten paying customers who have a doctorate. They can then, with an extreme rarity, put those on eBay and…I don’t know, this could go somewhere. National story?

      • art thiel

        Put down the crack pipe.

    • art thiel

      I’m awaiting further testimony. No guesswork.

  • tor5

    Really? Dipoto and others stomping around unhinged and screaming racist comments about Latinos? I can easily believe some level of dysfunction, but not such widespread, open, rabid bigotry against half their personnel. Of course, I’ve been shocked before by the racism hidden in some ostensibly professional environments. But if Martin complained to HR as much as she claims, there would have to be some trace of it. To believe otherwise is to buy into a pretty extensive conspiracy and coverup. You know these people, Art. Is that possible?

    • art thiel

      What I know about most people is that I don’t know them as well as I thought. Check your own circle for the times you were surprised.

  • Earl (Skip) Foutch

    What’s most significant to me regarding the entire episode is how publicly it is being played out. I suppose I can understand the purpose behind Martin going public with her allegations, but find it curious that the Mariners would respond so thoroughly in public. Having the allegations investigated by MLB and then responding to its findings would seem to be a more appropriate path for dealing with this situation.