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.”
There was a breach of contract on the Mariners behalf – and I had reported many other discriminatory incidences to HR and other Mariners staff members throughout the season. And yes Leonardo Santiago and Jose Valdez, DR trainers were let go and not given new contracts. #truth
— Lorena Martin (@LMHighPerform) November 13, 2018
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.