Passionate Rodriguez a players' manager
New Marlins skipper uses meditation to find mental comfort
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Removing the interim label from Edwin Rodriguez on Tuesday gave the 49-year-old manager and the Marlins organization some peace of mind.
Leading up to the decision, Rodriguez already was taking measures to ease his own mind over where his future was headed.
The Marlins just endured one of the most frantic and hectic weeks in franchise history. Dating back to June 23, when Fredi Gonzalez was dismissed as manager and replaced by Rodriguez, the team has gone through a whirlwind of emotions.
Rodriguez initially was tabbed as interim, and attention turned to Bobby Valentine getting the full-time job. But those negotiations, which were highly public, broke down late Sunday night. By Tuesday, the Marlins moved on. Team owner Jeffrey Loria provided some stability by announcing Rodriguez would stay on as manager through the remainder of the season. At that point, the team will re-evaluate.
Throughout the process, Rodriguez found mental comfort in a practice he's been doing for 16 years -- meditation.
"I've been doing that for many years, not only since I've been managing. I do that for myself," said Rodriguez, the first Puerto Rican-born manager in Major League history. "I used to be very emotional, let's put it that way. I was very emotional 20 years ago. I had to find a way to slow down. I had to find a way to react more slowly in situations."
As a player, Rodriguez was nicknamed "gallo," or rooster, for being hot headed.
During meditation, he finds tranquility listening to flowing water or croaking sounds made by the Puerto Rican coqui frogs.
"I have a CD of the coqui frogs that I listen to for 35 minutes," Rodriguez said.
Normally, 35 or so minutes of meditation in the morning is all Rodriguez needs to relax and get ready for his day. When the managerial turmoil was ongoing, he used a double dosage of meditating -- mornings and nights.
"It really helps," Rodriguez said. "It can be the ocean, the waves. It can be a river, water. For me, it works."
Don't get the impression that Rodriguez is entirely laid back. In the dugout, he's intense, passionate and occasionally fiery. A week into the job, he has already jawed with two third-base umpires on questionable calls. In the second inning of his first big league game as interim manager, he argued with third-base umpire CB Bucknor in Baltimore.
A long time Minor League manager, Rodriguez was brought up from Triple-A New Orleans, where he managed several current players, including Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez.
"Edwin is intense, caring, prepared and very free going," Coghlan said. "He will allow you to be yourself out there on the field. He's not in control so much where you can't go out there and play your game.
"If you make a mental error or something, he will stop you. He will correct you and he will hold you accountable. That's why he does a great job with me."
|"He's definitely a players' coach. He backs his players up."|
|-- Gaby Sanchez on Edwin Rodriguez|
On a double by Jose Reyes to left, Coghlan threw to second base, rather than to the cutoff man. The mental error allowed Reyes to spring to third. The official-score ruling was a double, with Reyes taking third base on the throw. No error was charged to Coghlan.
After the inning, Rodriguez approached Coghlan.
"He pats me, and he says, 'Hey, you know what I'm about to talk to you about?'" Coghlan said. "I just laughed and said, 'I know, I should have gone to third and just hit the cut.' He said, 'All right, go play, I know you know what you're doing.'
"That right there. He knows I messed up. It's a mental error. But he still will come over and correct you. He knows when to correct you."
The manner in which Rodriguez made his point also didn't interfere with what Coghlan had to do next, which was get ready to hit. So the 25-year-old left fielder wasn't preoccupied with a fielding mistake when he was about to bat.
In his short tenure with the team, Rodriguez has impressed the established veterans on the team, too.
Josh Johnson, the ace of the staff and a strong All-Star candidate, never played in the Minor Leagues for Rodriguez. But he was impressed with his new manager's first message.
"From the beginning, the first thing he said was he wanted to win," Johnson said. "Nothing changes. We're going out here to try to win. Hey, that's all there is. That's what I wanted to hear."
Much of the focus around the Marlins in recent days has been on Rodriguez taking over the club, and the fact he made history by managing in Puerto Rico.
The organization hasn't said much publicly about why Rodriguez was hired instead of Valentine, but team president David Samson noted that Valentine was never as much of a "done deal" as reports indicated.
On his weekly radio show Wednesday on the Marlins' flagship station, 790 The Ticket, Samson said: "It just seemed that way to the media."
Valentine, meanwhile, took a shot at the Marlins during ESPN's Baseball Tonight on Tuesday.
"If this is a Major League process, I hope I'm never in the process again," Valentine said. "It's very disturbing, confusing and it was insulting at times. But it's over."
Both sides have moved on. The Marlins have several new coaches in place -- John Mallee (hitting), Brandon Hyde (bench), Tarrik Brock (first base/outfield). All three are familiar with many of the players.
"I think it's probably the easiest transition they could have had in that situation," said backup catcher Brett Hayes, who played for Rodriguez in New Orleans. "Edwin is really familiar with these guys. He knows how they work and how we work. We didn't have to start from square one.
"Edwin is very laid back, very relaxed. [He has a] good relationship with his players. He doesn't get upset too often -- even keel. As long as you play the game hard, he's happy. He keeps the clubhouse loose. In my opinion, you win more ballgames that way."
Sanchez, a Rookie of the Year Award candidate, was a No. 3 hitter for Rodriguez a year ago in New Orleans.
"He's definitely a players' coach. He backs his players up," Sanchez said. "He knows how to respect the game, and he wants his players to do the same. I think that's very good in a coach.
"He's played in the Major Leagues. He knows what it takes to play. He knows how hard it is to play consistently and how tough it is to play 162 games. I feel like he knows that, he understands it and he works well with other players. I've always had the utmost respect for him. I played for him last year in Triple-A. Now, up here, it's the same thing."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.