The “Red” era is officially under way for the Miami Marlins.
Wearing his 2003 World Series ring like he did to his interview, Mike Redmond was introduced as the club’s new manager Friday afternoon at Marlins Park — less than two weeks after owner Jeffrey Loria dismissed Ozzie Guillen after just one season on the job.
“I had a little media training this morning, and I want you to know they advised me to keep my clothes on,” joked Redmond, who during the Marlins’ last World Series-winning season took batting practice in the nude to help the team snap a losing streak.
“To the fans — things are going to get better. I can’t wait to get started. Anyone that knows me, especially the guys in this room, you understand my passion, you understand my loyalty. I will give every ounce of effort out on that field. Like Larry [Beinfest] said, I’m going to get it done.”
Despite his penchant for sharing funny baseball stories, the 41-year-old former Marlins backup catcher, who interviewed for the position one day after Guillen was given his pink slip, is expected to be much more low-key than his predecessor.
Guillen’s over-the-top personality, profanity-laced tirades and 69-93 record (last place) in the National League East didn’t sit well with Loria, who still owes Guillen $7.5 million over the next three years.
The Marlins have ultimately turned to Redmond, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said, because they think he can get them back to the Marlins’ way “when the team outperformed our challenges.”
Said Beinfest: “We had an interesting, productive interview process, several viable candidates who could be sitting here today. But it was our first interviewee who stands out for a variety of reasons.
“A lot of those traits of Red the player are going to shine through as Red the manager and that was very attractive to us. What stands out is that he’s genuine. There’s nothing fake about Mike Redmond.”
Playoffs? World Series? Those lofty expectations aren’t expected of Redmond right away like it was a year ago when Guillen was hired. But the club wants to get back to winning and being competitive in the division, Beinfest said, adding that “2012 was the most disappointing season in this ownership’s tenure.”
Redmond, the franchise’s 13th manager and sixth in the past four seasons, is also the first former Marlin to get the club’s managerial job. And Beinfest said that has already brought a sense of unity to the organization.
“You will not find a Marlin, a former Marlin, whether it be in the front office or who worked with Mike or alumni that wasn’t 100 percent behind Mike Redmond,” Beinfest said. “This isn’t somebody from outside our family. This is our family. I think that’s going to help in a lot of ways.”
Although Redmond, signed to a three-year deal, doesn’t have much managerial experience — he went 155-115 in two seasons managing at the Single A level in the Blue Jays farm system — the Marlins were not dissuaded. Experience, Beinfest said, wasn’t a requirement in the team’s managerial search this time.
“Some of that could be the [Mike] Matheny, [Robin] Ventura factor,” Beinfest said in reference to how the Cardinals and White Sox had successful 2012 seasons after hiring managers with little to no experience. “But I think [Redmond] would have been on the list’’ even if he hadn’t managed in Single A.”
The Marlins interviewed only three other candidates after speaking to Redmond: Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and former Phillies and Padres manager Larry Bowa. Beinfest thanked all those candidates for “excellent interviews” before adding: “But there was only one manager for the job, and we’re quite happy today.”
Redmond, who was accompanied to Marlins Park on Friday by his wife Michele and sons Michael and Ryan, does have experience winning.
Aside from the World Series ring he won as a backup to Pudge Rodriguez in 2003, Redmond managed Single A Dunedin to a 78-55 record and first-place finish in the North Division of the Florida State League in 2012. He was also named Midwest League Manager of the year in 2011 after leading Single A Lansing (Mich.) to a 77-60 record and an appearance in the league finals.
Redmond, who was preparing to go deer hunting with a friend near his home in Spokane, Wash., when he got the phone call from Loria with the news he had been hired, credited Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and former Marlins managers Jack McKeon, John Boles and Jim Leyland as big influences. Redmond said he has taken something from each and will wear No. 11 — not because it was the number Leyland wore when he won the World Series in 1997 — because of the connection it has to his wife’s grandfather.
Redmond has part of his staff filled out. Former bullpen coach Reid Cornelius has been retained, former infield coach Perry Hill is returning after a one-year hiatus and will coach first base, and third-base coach Joe Espada will return and work with the outfielders. Hitting coach, bench coach and pitching coach are spots that still need to be filled.
“When I lift this thing up and think about this, I smile,” Redmond said of his World Series ring. “There’s so many guys who were a part of this team that care about this organization and want to see this organization get back in the right direction, the championship direction.
“When I put this ring on, I laugh. I think about everything. Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera. Mike Lowell hitting a home run in the playoffs. So many characters on that team. ... I know on the bench we were weren’t the most talented group of guys, but we only cared about one thing — and that’s winning. That’s what I’m all about. Winning. Whatever it takes to win — whether it’s drawing a walk, getting hit by a pitch, playing unselfish baseball. If it’s bunting. Whatever it takes to win.”