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."