New Miami Marlins skipper Dan Jennings declined to share specific details of what he told his players before Monday night’s game against Arizona.
“I tried to speak from my heart about how we as an organization feel about them and who we think they are and what they can be,” Jennings said. “I hope that I delivered the right message.”
The truth is it probably didn’t matter what Jennings said.
The 25 players in the Marlins’ clubhouse got the message loud and clear from the front office Sunday afternoon when manager Mike Redmond was fired following a 16-22 start.
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“I don’t know if this was supposed to be our wake-up call, but we have to get going here because two good guys just lost their jobs,” pitcher Tom Koehler said Monday.
“It’s tough because I have a lot of respect for Red and [bench coach Rob] Leary,” Koehler continued. “Unfortunately, it’s a situation that we put them in. We didn’t perform the way we were capable of. We kind of have to look ourselves in the mirror now and move forward from it. It’s a really good ballclub in here ‒ really talented and we know that.”
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who left the clubhouse before the media entered Sunday, said the managerial change was simply a product of the players not playing up to their potential.
“A lot of mishaps out there on the field,” Stanton said. “We haven’t been playing the way we envisioned or anyone did. Some change had to happen, and unfortunately it was on behalf of Red and Leary.”
Stanton, now playing for his seventh different manager since being called up in 2010, said it was only natural for the players to be surprised by the move to replace Redmond with Jennings, who has virtually no managerial experience.
But Stanton says Jennings knows the players well and was a big part of bringing them together.
“You have to understand he’s close to baseball, close to understanding the outlook of the game and what inside changes we need to be able to turn this around,” Stanton said. “So, at the end of the day we just have to play, man. That’s all we can do.”
When the Marlins got off to a 3-11 start, Stanton said the team wasn’t playing with enough fire.
Asked if he thinks Jennings can bring that out in the players, Stanton said: “Well, he’s an Alabama guy from the south. He’s got some fire in him.”
“He’s got the character for it,” Stanton continued. “But again, you’ve got to play it out and see. You can’t flip a coin and this is going to be the thing that’s going to work. We have to go out there and perform.”
Reliever Steve Cishek, who lost his closer’s job after four blown saves in seven chances and did Redmond no favors, said he feels badly about the firings. But the team has to move on, Cishek said. He said Jennings is well respected in the clubhouse and will get everyone’s attention.
“He knows baseball,” Cishek said. “He’s been around the game for a long time and has big-league experience. We know he’s going to come in here, he’s going to motivate us like crazy because he’s a great speaker.
“Every time he speaks, he has everyone’s attention. For me, it was pretty inspirational. I like listening to him talk. He’s a part of his team at a whole other level.”