J.D. Martinez is the latest athlete to come under fire on the internet for controversial past comments.
In January 2013, the Boston Red Sox slugger, 31, posted a photo of Adolf Hitler to his Instagram. The image included the quote, “To conquer a nation, First disarm it’s [sic] citizens.” (According to Snopes, there is no evidence that Hitler made the comment).
Martinez captioned the post — which is still shared to his page — “This is why I will always stay strapped! #thetruth.”
Martinez defended the post at a press conference on Tuesday after it was resurfaced, according to ESPN. “At the time I posted that, the Second Amendment at the time was definitely a hot topic,” Martinez said. “The point of it wasn’t to offend anybody.”
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“I saw it and I posted it,” continued Martinez, who pointed to his family’s experience fleeing Cuba under Fidel Castro. “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 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 — a free agent — signed a five-year contract for $110 million in the offseason, USA Today reported. He reportedly has a shot at the American League Triple Crown.
Saying that he did not “want this distraction,” Martinez added, “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.”
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Sam Kennedy, the president of the Red Sox, told PEOPLE in a statement, “We spoke with J.D. and he explained he was expressing his view on a political issue.”
“Players have the right to express their own political and social views (within MLB’s social media guidelines). We work with our players regularly to reinforce that their social media interactions can be interpreted in ways that are unintended.”
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