LAKE BUENA VISTA -- There were hugs and handshakes during batting practice Monday when rookie Marlins manager Mike Redmond had a chance to reunite with two people he said were instrumental in his baseball development: Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca.
“I’m not here today without those guys,” Redmond said.
Tosca was manager when Redmond began his pro career in the Marlins’ system at Single A Kane County (Ill.) in 1993. Gonzalez was the catcher’s manager in ’94 at Single A Brevard County and again in ’98 at Triple A Charlotte (N.C.).
“Those guys have known me since I came out of Gonzaga,” Redmond said. “Carlos was like a father to me. He was hard on me when I was younger as a catcher, really taught me to be responsible and to be accountable as a catcher. He was really tough on me, old school. But it made me a better player, and it made me learn the game.”
It was Gonzalez who broke the news to Redmond that he was being promoted to the majors when the two were at Triple A in 1998. The Marlins needed a catcher after acquiring, and then quickly trading, Mike Piazza.
“I was in the weight room, and he came and told me I was going to the big leagues,” Redmond said. “And I said, ‘C’mon Fredi.’ I thought he was joking. He said, “No Red, you’re going to the big leagues.”
Twenty years after Redmond was first introduced to Tosca and Gonzalez he was managing against them.
“It is a little bit weird,” Redmond said. “But at the same time, it’s neat. I think it’s great.”
Justin Upton hit a tape-measure homer into the parking lot off Marlins reliever Scott Maine on Monday as the Braves held on for a 7-6 victory.
When a reporter jokingly suggested that Upton’s blast was similar to a few of Redmond’s during his playing days, the manager replied: “Yeah, just nobody saw them because they were in my dreams.”
Maine gave up back-to-back homers to Jason Heyward and Upton in the fourth inning as the Marlins suffered their first loss of the spring.
Phenom nears debut
Jose Fernandez was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday in Jupiter and, if everything goes well, will likely make his first spring appearance on Thursday in a “B” game. Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said Fernandez has been dealing with a tight hamstring.
Easing the veterans
Redmond said that, by design, he’s easing Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco into the Grapefruit League picture. Polanco will make his first spring training appearance Tuesday in Jupiter while Pierre, who has not played since Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener, will also be in the lineup.
“Those veteran guys, I want to take care of them, especially Polanco having some back problems over the last couple of years, make sure he eases into it,” Redmond said. “We need those guys for the long haul. We don’t have a ton of depth, and we definitely need J.P. and Polanco to be healthy.”
• Tuesday: New York Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-2, 5.63 ERA) vs. Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (12-13, 4.48), 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-13, 4.30) at Washington Nationals (TBA), 1:05 p.m., Viera.