Seattle Mariners bench coach Manny Acta on Wednesday strongly defended manager Scott Servais and the organization against charges of racist comments levied this week by Dr. Lorena Martin, the team’s director of high performance who was fired last month.
In a phone call from the Dominican Republic, where he is general manager of the Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League, Acta said during his three years on Servais’ staff, he has never seen signs of the behavior alleged by Martin.
“I don’t want to talk about Dr. Martin,” he said. “I want to talk about me being able to see first-hand our clubhouse and our organization. Our clubhouse is probably the most diverse in the major leagues. We have people from all over the world. Scott goes out of his way to make people feel good and treat everyone the same.
“He really cares about every single one of them. I’ve known Scott since 1989 when we were rooming on the road in the minor leagues. Out of seven billion people in the world, he chose me to coach for him. That tells you right there he’s not capable of saying those things.”
Acta is a native of the Dominican Republic. Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday, “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.”
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it is investigating the charges.
In an interview with the Tacoma News-Tribune on Monday, Martin said Servais told her you don’t see Latino managers or catchers in baseball because “they aren’t bright enough. They are dumb.”
Acta said, “I have never heard those comment coming out of him, and I would not put up with it, and would not work for an organization that thinks that way, being a Dominican myself.”
Acta has had two managerial stints in the major leagues, with Cleveland and Washington.
“If I’m not smart, why does he want me on his coaching staff?” he said. “I can only talk about my own experience. I never heard anyone refer to any of us that way.”
Acta pointed out that batting-practice pitcher Nasusel Cabrera and bullpen catcher Fleming Baez, both Dominicans, are also part of Servais’ staff, and until he recently resigned so was hitting coach Edgar Martinez, who is Puerto Rican.
“I’ve been in all those meetings, even closed-door meetings, and I’ve never heard those types of comments and would not tolerate that,” Acta said. “I haven’t heard any negative comments about minorities.
“Look at our clubhouse. The proof is there. In the three years I’ve been there, all the way from Mr. Stanton (Mariners chairman and managing partner John Stanton) to the batboys, I’ve never heard anyone treat any of our guys different.”
Martin also alleged that Dipoto called her “a cocky Latina” and McKay commented that Dominican players “are just plain stupid.”
“What I said goes for Jerry and Andy,” Acta said. “I’ve dealt with all those guys. I don’t know what went on with Dr. Martin, but as far as me being in contact with those guys on an everyday basis, that’s not what I’ve seen.”
Acta said he was “shocked” when he read Martin’s charges.
“That’s because of what I have experienced,” he said. “Scotty has made over 40 trips to the Dominican in his career. As a manager, he could have chosen to pick up the phone to talk to guys, but almost every year he travels to meet with them personally. Also, our organization has made a tremendous investment in our Dominican academy. We help them get an education and they come out better citizens.”