9/26/2013 2:08 P.M. ET
Catching up with Marlins manager Redmond
First-year skipper reflects on rebuilding campaign, looks toward future
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Through all the struggles in a rebuilding season, Mike Redmond strived to remain levelheaded. It wasn't always easy. But in his first season managing the youthful Marlins, Redmond carried over the same qualities he displayed in a 13-year big league career as a player.
The 42-year-old demonstrated patience and poise. He kept the atmosphere loose, and the players focused and prepared. Overall, it was a trying year, filled with rookie mistakes, injuries and inconsistencies.
For the second time in franchise history, the Marlins reached the 100-loss plateau. Redmond has the distinction of being part of both of those squads. He was a rookie catcher on the 1998 club, which finished 54-108. Now, in Redmond's first season as a big league manager, the Marlins are 59-100 with three games to go.
As a player and manager, Redmond has experienced the lows that come along with rebuilding. He's also enjoyed the highs, being part of the Marlins' 2003 World Series title team. Redmond is hopeful that the growing pains suffered this season will help the maturation process of the players in the future.
Before looking ahead, Redmond sat down with MLB.com and reflected on his rookie season managing the organization in a transition season.
MLB.com: You knew going in this was going to be a rebuilding year. From your perspective, did it go as expected?
Redmond: Coming in, I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't really have a feel for many of the players. We had so many injuries early, we really couldn't predict or anticipate what would happen. That definitely got us behind the eight ball from the start, with the injuries to the pitching, and then having some of the position players go down.
As I sit here right now, I always try to find as many positives as I can. I think the good thing is, we got to see a lot of our young guys. I've been very happy with the effort. The guys have come and played hard every day. Despite a ton of tough losses and one-run losses, down the road, I think we will be better for it. We've played in a lot of tight games, and we know we can compete against any of these teams. But there are definitely places we can improve -- especially, offensively.
MLB.com: With so many rookies and inexperienced players, how did you balance the managing part with the teaching part?
Redmond: The evaluating and the managing parts, I feel like I've done that my whole career as a catcher. That part of it has been fun. It's been a challenge. It's been a lot of work. I've learned a lot. I know next year I will be way more comfortable, with a year under my belt. I know exactly what to expect, whereas this year, I didn't know what to expect, even though I played so many years in the big leagues. I'm excited. A year of experience is big for me.
MLB.com: Because you were evaluating and playing young guys, you took your share of lumps. Were you in a position where sometimes you could have played some of your veterans more, and maybe won a few more games, but you followed the plan and stuck with the young players?
Redmond: We all knew we had a lot of young guys on the roster, and we needed to let these guys go out there and play and see what we had, and what kind of players these guys were. We definitely learned about a lot of different guys. At the same time, too, we were developing. We were playing guys and giving them opportunities. For a long time, Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna -- two rookies -- were hitting third and fourth. That's probably not your typical situation of bringing two guys up from Double-A and hitting them in the middle of the order. At the same time, it was great experience for them, and they did a nice job for us. At the time, they were a spark.
Sure, there were times we were developing guys and playing guys, but we were getting them experience. Down the road, will we be like that? Probably not.
MLB.com Do you feel next year there will be more of a sense of urgency for these guys, because ultimately at the big leagues, results are what matters?
Redmond: I think that always comes with the ballclub, and how we put it together. I think we all realize we have some areas that need to get better and can get better, especially offensively. Ultimately, our goal is to win. It's for us to continue to improve and continue to get better. But ultimately, we want to win ballgames.
MLB.com: With runs so hard to come by, how did that affect your managing style or your decision-making in games?
Redmond: It was hard. I don't know if I could rely on having a style. We'd go in spurts where the bunting didn't work, and we'd try to hit-and-run. And the hit-and-run didn't work. So it was hard to develop a certain style of running the ballclub. It seemed like the whole year, we played so many tight games and haven't been able to score runs. Whatever we've done, we haven't been able to generate those runs. When we've scored runs, we've won a lot of ballgames.
You are always managing to your personnel and to the guys that we have. We don't have a lot of team speed, so we really couldn't force the issue on the bases either. There were definitely some times where you just had to sit back and let the guys play and develop. At times, it was really good. At other times, it was really tough.
MLB.com: At times, were you asking yourself if you could do more?
Redmond: Sure, there were times, I was like, "Man, what more could I do?" You feel you have to do something. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it's up to the guys to go out there and get the job done.
MLB.com: So much attention is paid to Giancarlo Stanton, who clearly is the focus of your lineup. He admits he hasn't had his best season. How did you deal with and relate to Stanton?
Redmond: First of all, he's been great. He's been a professional. He's come out and works hard. Despite hitting his 20-plus home runs, he probably would say it was an off year for him. I think the key for him going forward is staying healthy. He's so talented. His power is off the charts. This guy is a game changer. He's such a big part of our team and our lineup. Hopefully, he will be here for a long time.
MLB.com: Certainly a highlight was the emergence of Jose Fernandez as an ace and an All-Star. When did you realize you had something special there?
Redmond: We knew he was going to be good. You could tell by his stuff and how polished he was. For me, it was the All-Star Game when he took it to the next level. I don't know if it was a confidence thing for him. As soon as we got him past throwing his five innings at the beginning of the year, he just took off. He knew that he had more pitches and more innings to work with, and he really took advantage of that. He pitched some tremendous games.
It just seems like in the second half of the season, he just got better and better and better. I'm excited for next year to let him go a little bit and see what he can do. He's such a great kid. He's such a great competitor. He's one of a kind. They don't grow many like that, that's for sure.
MLB.com: With all the ups and downs over the season, was there one thing you did to motivate your club?
Redmond: I tried to be consistent every day. I would always walk through the clubhouse and talk to guys, and made sure they were [mentally] coming back. We lost a lot of tough games. I made sure I'd go up and ask them, "Hey, you guys coming back tomorrow, or what?" I'd get a couple of smiles out of them. I think they were looking to me to see how I would react, as well.
I think maybe if I handled things differently, it would have put more pressure on them. That's definitely something I didn't want to do. Will that change down the road? Probably. But I think for this year and the situation we were in, I think me being consistent every day and coming in and making sure guys knew I wasn't freaking out -- or losing it -- or giving up. I felt that was very important.