Tino Martinez had just retired after the 2005 season, ready to relax after 16 years in the majors, when he received a phone call from Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
The Marlins had hired Joe Girardi to be their manager in 2006 and Loria wanted Martinez, who was Girardi’s teammate on the Yankees, to be the Marlins’ hitting coach.
Martinez said no. “I didn’t want to do it back then because I’d just retired. I wasn’t ready to get back in the game yet,’’ he recalled.
Martinez said Loria called back a couple of years later, offering the same job. Again, he turned Loria down, opting to spend time with his high-school age children.
When Loria called a third time, in November, Martinez didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“Two of my kids have graduated high school,’’ he said. “I have lot more time on my hands and I like the opportunity to come here with this young team and help rebuild.’’
Martinez, 45, will officially kick off his coaching career Friday when the Marlins conduct their first full-squad workout, which starts at 1 p.m.
And he brings a championship résumé to the Marlins. A first-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1988 out of the University of Tampa, he hit 339 home runs and had 1,271 RBI over his career.
He replaced Don Mattingly at first base and helped the Yankees win four World Series, in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2000. He was runner-up to Ken Griffey for the 1997 American League MVP award after finishing second in the league in home runs (44) and RBI (141).
He also won a Gold Medal for Team USA in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
“He comes with an amazing track record as a player,’’ Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.