It was just over a year ago, Oct. 30, 2017 to be exact, that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto gleefully announced the hiring of Dr. Lorena Martin, Ph.D to be the organization’s director of high performance — a position created specifically for her to help change and revolutionize the organization’s commitment to training, conditioning and injury prevention to lead to greater success on the field.
“We have spent nearly a year working on creating this position and structure as well as identifying the best person for this role,” Dipoto said at the time.
But now, that dynamic is over, and it’s gotten ugly.
MLB sources first mentioned last week that Martin had been fired from her position after just one season. Martin later confirmed her termination via text message, but wasn’t ready to discuss what had transpired. Instead, she took to her Instagram account on Monday afternoon, leveling serious accusations at Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and Andy McKay, the Mariners’ director of player development about prejudice toward Latin players.
In the 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.”
She also added, “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 released a statement via the club’s official Twitter account at 4:45 p.m. Monday.
Our statement regarding Dr. Lorena Martin. pic.twitter.com/5RV4AuKxTE
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) November 13, 2018
“Lorena Martin was relieved of her duties with the Mariners on Oct. 10, 2018,” it read. “While it is our policy not to 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 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.”
Sources indicated that the Mariners were trying to avoid paying the remaining two years on Martin’s three-year contract with the team for various reasons and that she had hired an attorney.
Martin responded on Twitter saying: “They wanted to negotiate to keep me quiet.”
Martin’s presence with the Major League team wasn’t quite as visible as first expected. Dipoto gave her oversight over all aspects of the training and conditioning programs for the entire organization. But the enormity of the situation with the big league team and minor league affiliates was a massive undertaking.
Also some players were slow to embrace a new style of thinking about their health, conditioning, nutrition and recovery. Prior to her dismissal, there were rumblings that Martin would have her role reduced with the big league team and that she would instead work out of the team’s complex in Arizona, focusing more on the minor league staff in 2019.
When the Mariners first hired Martin, Dipoto also lauded her: “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.”