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J.D. Martinez said he had no intention of offending anyone or wading into contentious political waters when, in 2013, he posted on Instagram a quote that has been falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler by anti-gun control advocates.
Martinez’s inaccurate quote was, “To conquer a Nation, First disarm it’s (sic) citizens.”
“This is why I will always stay strapped! #thetruth,” Martinez wrote in the caption.
Martinez was 25 at the time and with the Astros.
Martinez offered his view on the meaning behind the nearly 6-year-old post and its current fallout.
“I didn’t mean any harm by the pic,’’ Martinez said. “It was more of a picture showing what my stand was on the Second Amendment. At the time I posted that, the Second Amendment at the time was definitely a hot topic. The point of it wasn’t to offend anybody.”
Martinez made clear that his intention was not to endorse the ideology of a dictator, but instead the opposite, based on the experience of his family fleeing the oppression of Fidel Castro in Cuba.
“As most of you guys know, I’m Cuban-American. Most of my family was run out of Cuba because of a brutal dictator. It’s terrible. It’s one of those things where I’ll never get to meet some of my family members because of it. It’s one of those things where, I was really touched at the time,” said Martinez. “I saw it and I posted it. I had no intent to offend anyone, but it was mostly just to state a point — a political point at the time that I believe in. I posted it and that’s one thing that, I love my country. I love this country. I stand by the Constitution and the Second Amendment. It’s something that I take pride in and it’s something that I’ll back up.”
Martinez expressed discomfort with the fact he was discussing his political beliefs with the media just over an hour before a game.
“I’m here to play baseball guys. I’m not a politician. I’m not here to talk about politics. I’m here to help us win,” said Martinez. “This was something that happened six years ago. In this day and age, it’s something where you really have to be really careful what you talk about. That’s why I don’t talk about politics. I don’t want this distraction. You guys are talking about something that happened six years ago. I posted it and that’s why I’m out here talking about it, but I’m worried about a championship. I’m worried about winning a championship. Everyone here has a right to their own political beliefs and everybody has the right to stand by what they believe in. That’s what makes us American. We’re all not going to agree on the same things, but that’s what makes this country so great.
“I’m a baseball player. That’s how I want people to view me. That’s how I want people to look at me,” he added. “I’m not here to start a movement or start anything else. I play baseball and I want to win a championship. That’s all I’m here for.”
The scrutiny aimed at Martinez’s post underscored how players use social media. Manager Alex Cora noted that he has had informal conversations with major league players over the last month about the potential for past social media posts to generate controversy. He likewise reached out to minor league managers throughout the organization to have similar conversations with the franchise’s prospects.
“He expressed a political view,” Cora said of Martinez. “People use social media the way they want to. We talk to players, and not only at the big league level but throughout the organization, about the use of social media, but in the end they decided how to do it.
“A month ago we mentioned it to the players. We talked to the managers in the minor leagues about everything that is going on and where we’re at right now. People are going to start searching tweets from 10 years ago. I think players control their Twitter handles and Instagram, and if it’s there people are going to find it and they have to be responsible enough to explain why they did it.”
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.