Redmond ready to turn preparation into action
Considered a future coach during playing days, ex-catcher introduced as Miami skipper
MIAMI -- Enthusiasm and energy were qualities Mike Redmond possessed as a player. The 41-year-old plans on employing those same attributes in his new job as Marlins manager.
Brimming with confidence, Redmond was introduced to the South Florida media at Marlins Park on Friday.
"It's about winning," Redmond said. "It's about competing. It's about showing up every single day. That's what I'm about."
Named Miami's manager on Thursday, Redmond signed a three-year contract on Friday, and he expressed how eager he is for the start of Spring Training.
"I've been preparing for this day since 1993," Redmond said, referring to his first day in the Minor Leagues. "Kane County Cougars. Charles Johnson starting catcher, Mike Redmond backup catcher."
On the back of Redmond's Minor League baseball card, it said he would be a future coach.
The Marlins' 13th manager, Redmond is the organization's sixth in the past four years. His hiring came nine days after Ozzie Guillen was dismissed on Oct. 23. The task in front of Redmond is a challenging one, as Miami is coming off a 69-93 last-place season.
"I think this is a major win for us in a lot of ways," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "Mike is going to have so much support from a variety of people that he's touched in the game, including this front office. It's going to be tough for him not to succeed."
All along, the Marlins had Redmond very high on their short list of candidates to replace Guillen. He sat down with team owner Jeffrey Loria and the front office on Oct. 24 in New York. Others to interview were Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, MLB Network analyst and former manager Larry Bowa and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.
One of Redmond's first challenges will be filling out his coaching staff. Reid Cornelius is returning as bullpen coach, and Joe Espada will be back as third-base coach. Perry Hill will return to the organization as the infield coach.
To Marlins fans, Redmond brings name recognization and the return of a popular former player. He doesn't, however, carry with him previous big league coaching or managing experience. Still, no previous MLB managing or coaching experience isn't necessarily viewed as a negative in the game these days.
Two teams set a trend in 2012, and the Marlins hope the success continues in '13. The Cardinals hired Mike Matheny to replace legendary Tony La Russa, and in his first season, Matheny led the Cards to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, which they lost to the Giants.
The White Sox replaced Guillen with Robin Ventura. They seriously challenged for the American League Central title before they were edged out by the Tigers in the final few games.
What Matheny and Ventura each possess is tremendous knowledge of the game and leadership. The Marlins are hoping Redmond can quickly reverse their fortunes.
"I think certain guys are probably cut out for it more than others," said Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson. "Redmond is one of them."
Dawson, a Hall of Famer, added that he thinks Redmond will rely heavily on his staff to help implement his objectives.
"That will go a long way in helping him with the adjustment," Dawson said.
Redmond managed at the Minor League level for two seasons in the Blue Jays' organization, posting a 155-115 record and .574 winning percentage. This year, he guided Class A Dunedin to a 78-55 mark and a berth in the Florida State League playoffs. That team ended up losing to Lakeland, which went on to beat Miami's Jupiter affiliate in the championship series.
Born in Seattle, Redmond now resides in Spokane, Wash. He attended Gonzaga University, and his path to the big leagues was a difficult one.
Redmond signed with the Marlins in 1992 as an undrafted free agent. Known as a "grinder," he worked his way through the ranks and debuted with Florida on May 31, 1998.
To Redmond, there is something poetically fitting about having broken in with the Marlins and then coming full circle to manage them.
"Starting in 1993, coming up as a young kid out of Gonzaga University, cutting my teeth in the Minor Leagues," Redmond said. "Not a lot of guys get the opportunity.
"No. 1, to get into an organization and then make your Major League debut with that organization, let alone to play seven years, win a World Series, and then come back as the manager. ... It's pretty amazing. Believe me, I've had to pinch myself the last couple of days. It's reality. I'm super excited. I'm grateful to the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to go out there and manage this team. I accept that challenge, and I can't wait."
The 1998 Marlins endured a franchise-record 108 losses, and the team began rebuilding during the difficult year. Redmond's first opportunity was created because the club traded away Johnson and Mike Piazza.
It didn't take long for Redmond's fun-loving personality to get noticed.
"He always walked around with a smile on his face," Dawson said. "He had that way of keeping the guys loose."
Redmond played for the Marlins from 1998-2004. In '03, he backed up Ivan Rodriguez on the World Series championship team.
During a tough stretch for the Marlins in 2003, Redmond gained plenty of attention for doing something impromptu that became part of his legacy. For no reason in particular, he took batting practice in the cages wearing nothing but his socks and shoes.
The incident prompted Redmond to lightheartedly mention it during his opening comments on Friday.
"First of all, I want you guys to know that I had a little media training this morning," he said. "They advised me that I should keep my clothes on for this press conference. I want you guys to know that going in."
Pressed on why he did it, Redmond shrugged: "It was just one of those days. I don't know what it means. I just got up, got my bat and off I went."
If there is any hidden meaning to any clubhouse antic, it's that a little levity sometimes relaxes teams when things aren't going right. The Marlins in 2003 certainly made a remarkable turnaround, going from 10 games under .500 in May to winning the title.
On Friday, Redmond made sure he carried with him a reminder of his lone World Series victory. He sported his championship ring.
"I wear it on special occasions, and this absolutely is a special occasion," the former catcher said, adding that he wore the ring to his job interview.
As a free agent, Redmond signed with the Twins in 2005, where he backed up Joe Mauer. In '10, Redmond joined the Indians before retiring. In 13 big league seasons, he batted .287 with 13 home runs and 243 RBIs.
As a player, Redmond earned respect for accepting his role as a bench player, where he was always upbeat and supportive.
Jack McKeon, who managed the 2003 team, recalls having a meeting with the reserves on that championship squad. Because the Marlins were scrambling to get into the playoffs, the starters played just about every inning.
"I'll never forget having a meeting one time, apologizing to some of the guys for not being able to play them enough," McKeon said. "A guy like Red, he'd come up to you, pat you on the back and say, 'Don't worry about it, keep doing what you're doing. We're fine.'"
McKeon saw potential managing qualities in Redmond early on.
"He was very observing of different situations," McKeon said. "He was always alert, unselfish, willing. He was always in the dugout, keeping guys loose, picking up pointers and helping guys."
Redmond's task now is to try to elevate an organization coming off three straight losing seasons and without a playoff appearance since 2003.
"I like this team," Redmond said of the projected 2013 Marlins. "I like the makeup of this team. We have some nice young players. We have some older, veteran players. It really is an exciting, young team with a lot of talent. I can't wait to get the opportunity to go out there and watch these guys play."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.