The Marlins thought of making Mike Redmond a minor league coach when his playing career was sputtering in the late 1990s. Now they could hire Redmond — a 41-year-old up-and-comer with extensive ties to the Marlins — to replace Ozzie Guillen as the team’s manager.
Such a decision wouldn’t come as any surprise to former teammates and three of his former Marlins managers, who feel Redmond is exactly what the last-place team needs.
Jack McKeon said he “just loves” Redmond.
John Boles called him a “perfect fit.”
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And Fredi Gonzalez said Redmond “knows the game inside and out.”
Redmond emerged as a leading candidate to land the job after Guillen was fired Tuesday and interviewed Wednesday with the Marlins. Redmond spent the past two seasons managing in the low minors in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
He was at Single A Dunedin this past season.
Sources said the Marlins also hope to talk to Reds pitching coach Bryan Price, in addition to other candidates, for the vacancy. Price has a long association with Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest from their Seattle days and was a candidate three years ago to become the Marlins’ pitching coach.
But many believe Redmond, despite a relative lack of professional coaching experience, could have a leg up on the competition because of his familiarity with the Marlins’ organization and club executives.
The long-time backup catcher spent 12 years as a player in the Marlins’ system, including seven of those at the major-league level. He was a member of the 2003 World Series team.
“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.
Kevin Millar, one of Redmond’s teammates in the minors and on the Marlins, said he can’t think of a better candidate to replace Guillen as manager than his long-time friend.
“He is the best candidate,” said Millar, who is now an analyst for MLB Network. “He couldn’t hit. He couldn’t throw. He couldn’t catch. But I know one thing. He was put on this earth to be a manager.”
Millar said Redmond was nicknamed “Mike Obliqueman” when the two were teammates at Single A Kane County in 1994
“He’s got the worst obliques you’ve ever seen in the shower,” Millar joked. “And if you take away Tom Glavine, he was a .114 hitter.”
Redmond owned Glavine, going 21 for 48 in his career against the Braves’ left-hander. Redmond was also successful against a handful of other top lefties, including current Marlins starter Mark Buehrle (16 for 37), New York Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia (13 for 26) and Al Leiter (13 for 29). But many feel Redmond will make an even better manager than player.
Millar said Redmond reminds him of Giants manager Bruce Bochy in terms of demeanor.
“He’s got a great way to lead,” Millar said. “He’s got a funny side to him, but he’s also got an all-business side to him. He’d be great for the job.”