Part of the reason Mike Redmond was hired to be the Marlins next manager was because of how well owner Jeffrey Loria, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and the rest of the Marlins front office know him from his playing days.
But the 41-year old former Marlins catcher doesn't have quite the same familiarity with the players he'll now be managing. Although Redmond played through the 2010 season, he left the Marlins after the 2004 season. Josh Johnson, the longest tenured pitcher on the Marlins staff, didn't get big league call up until 2005.
Catcher John Buck never played with Redmond, but they crossed paths plenty in the American League Central when Buck was with the Royals and Redmond was with the Twins from 2005 to 2009. And although Buck still had yet to speak with Redmond as of Thursday afternoon, Buck said he was happy to hear Redmond had been hired as the Marlins new manager.
"I'm definitely excited about it," said Buck, who said he missed his new manager's phone call earlier Thursday morning because he was in the gym. "I spoke with Joe Mauer when we were at the All-Star Game [in 2010] and I remember asking him specifically about Redmond because he was in our division and he came across as one of those intelligent guys who stayed in the game because he was really smart and not because he was athletically gifted.
"Joe had nothing but praise for Mike and went on and on about how much he had learned from him. Selfishly I'm pretty excited to work with him."
Buck said he's heard from other players around the league that when Redmond "is on the field he's all business." But Buck said he's also heard stories about how Redmond likes to have fun and keep things light.
In 2003, when the team was struggling and then manager Jeff Torborg was fired, Redmond had a unique way of breaking the Marlins' losing streak -- he took batting practice in the cage wearing nothing but spikes and batting gloves.
"Catchers take fastball off our private parts for a living. We're not all there sometimes," Buck said laughing. "I know he likes to have fun, but he's also one of those last dying breeds of the old school world -- that rough nose guy who likes to get dirty and grind things out. Right away there are a lot of guys on our team who I know have respect for him."
As for the Marlins former manager Ozzie Guillen, Buck said he still hasn't spoken to him because Guillen was in Europe recently. But Buck said he still intends to call and talk to Guillen.
Buck said there was definitely a sense of surprise in the Marlins clubhouse when Guillen was fired last week "because he had three years left on his contract."
"I think a lot of us didn't want him to go for the simple fact we felt we were the ones who underachieved," Buck said. "In our clubhouse we have the type of guys who aren't going to deflect the blame on the manager. That's what makes a lot of guys on our team special. We basically failed last year and we know it. We need to get better.
"Unfortunately, Ozzie was the recipient of all of that. It kind of fell on his shoulders and I think that's where a lot of guys hated to see him go."
Buck said many Marlins are happy infield coach Perry Hill is being brought back. Buck said he hasn't heard who the Marlins will hire as the hitting coach, pitching coach and bench coach, but suspects Redmond was "probably calling about that."
"He eats, sleeps and drinks baseball and then dreams about how he can make his guys better," Buck said of Hill. "It's like having a dad on the team. Players on every team love him. He legitimately cares to make you better."
The Marlins have hired Mike Redmond to be their next manager.
Redmond, who was the first candidate to interview, replaces Ozzie Guillen, who was fired after a 69-93 season and a last-place finish in the National League East. Redmond, who signed a three-year deal, becomes the club's 13th manager all-time and the sixth in the last four seasons. He's also the first former Marlins player to get the job.
Redmond, 41, spent 12 years with the Marlins including seven at the big league leavel primarily as the team's backup catcher from 1998 to 2004. He retired after the 2010 season as a career .287 hitter with 13 home runs and 243 RBI in 764 games. He's spent the past two years managing in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system.
Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, former big league manager Larry Bowa and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon also interviewed.
The Marlins will have a press conference Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Marlins Park to introduce Redmond.
Guillen, who is still owed $7.5 million over the next three years by the Marlins, was one of the first people to take to Twitter and congratulate Redmond on his new gig.
"Congrats Mike Redmond for [your] new job," Guillen tweeted. "Good luck buddy. [You] have great guys going to play for you."
The Marlins thought of making Mike Redmond a minor league coach when his playing career was sputtering in the late 1990s.
Redmond, a member of the Marlins' 2003 World Series team, managed Single A Dunedin to a 78-55 record and first place finish in the North Division of the Florida State League in 2012. His overall managerial record in the Blue Jays farm system was 155-115.
He was named the Midwest League's Manager of the year in 2011 after leading Single Lansing Lugnuts to a 77-60 record and an appearance in the league finals.
Last week, three former Marlins managers all gave Redmond ringing endorsements in interviews with The Miami Herald.
Jack McKeon said he “just loves” Redmond.
John Boles called Redmond a “perfect fit.”
And Fredi Gonzalez said Redmond “knows the game inside and out.”
“He was into the game all the time and is very knowledgeable,” said McKeon, who managed Redmond in 2003 and ’04. “I thought someday he might be a good manager.”
When Redmond became a free agent in 2005, the Minnesota Twins called McKeon for a referral.“I praised the hell out of him, and they signed him,” McKeon said. “The next year they told me thanks a lot, and what a great asset he was.”
Boles said Redmond “has the right disposition” for the job.
“He’s smart and hard-working,” said Boles, who managed the Marlins from 1999-2001 when Redmond was with the team and is now a senior advisor for the Kansas City Royals. “I always thought he’d become a manager or general manager, one of the two.”
Gonzalez was managing in the Marlins’ minor-league system when Redmond was struggling to reach the majors. Gonzalez recalled a staff meeting toward the end of spring training in 1998 when it was decided that Redmond was going nowhere as a player and would be better off coaching.
“He was an hour or two away from starting his coaching career,” recalled Gonzalez, who now manages the Atlanta Braves. “We were real close to giving him a stopwatch, a pencil and a pad.”
But, somehow, Redmond hung on as a player, and when the Marlins continued their dismantling of the 1997 World Series team by trading Charles Johnson in May, 1998, and, one week later, Mike Piazza, the Marlins were in need of a back-up catcher for Gregg Zaun. Redmond was promoted, went 3 for 3 in his first big-league game, and spent the next 13 seasons in the majors as a solid back-up.
“He’s a guy who got every bit out of his talent,” Gonzalez said.
In addition to Redmond, the Marlins have also brought back longtime infield coach Perry Hill, who will also coach first base. Hill returned to the Marlins in 2011, but left the team in 2012 because of chronic problems with his left knee. The rest of the staff figures to be announced Friday.
The Marlins lost 90 games and finished last in the NL East in 2011, but posted a .985 fielding percentage under Hill, tied with four other teams for the best mark in the National League. The Marlins’ 93 errors were the sixth-fewest among NL teams.
In 2010, when Hill wasn't around, the Marlins made 123 errors and posted a .979 fielding percentage. The Marlins committed 103 errors and posted a .983 fielding percentage in 2012.
Under Hill’s guidance in 2009, the Pirates led all major league teams in fielding percentage (.988) and made the fewest errors (73) among all teams, setting club records for most errorless games played in one season (101) and also with their fielding percentage.
Hill guided the Marlins to a franchise-best .987 fielding percentage in 2003, ranking third in the Majors.