Mr. Marlin is a Marlin no more.
Jeff Conine, who served as a special assistant to former team president David Samson, said he turned down an offer from new ownership to remain with the organization in what would have been a sharply diminished role at lower pay.
“To say I’m disappointed, that I won’t have a role in this organization, yeah, I’m disappointed,” Conine said by phone Thursday.
Conine is a South Florida baseball icon, an original Marlin and member of both World Series teams.
“I spent 7 1/2 years as a player and the last nine years as someone working with the organization,” Conine said. “I’ve always considered myself a Marlin. I’m a member of this community. I want to see them win again. I want to see them get back to the World Series and the playoffs.”
But Conine wasn’t keen on remaining with the organization in a reduced role. As a special assistant under previous ownership, Conine was often in uniform for batting practice “to help (players) be better big leaguers.”
He also sat in on trade discussions at the annual Winter Meetings, providing input and advice on proposed deals and free agent signings.
Conine and three other special assistants – Jack McKeon, Tony Perez and Andre Dawson – were each fired last month by Samson under orders from Derek Jeter, right after Jeter and Bruce Sherman completed purchase of the franchise.
But Conine, Perez and Dawson were each offered new positions with the Marlins, though they carried less responsibility and for lower pay. The three were reportedly making $100,000 annually. Sources said they were offered half that to remain with the team.
Conine refused. He said he was told he would be involved in spring training and alumni gatherings – “community service type things” – but that was about it.
“It was diminished everything across the board,” Conine said of the reduced role. “I didn’t feel it was worth my time and I’m going to explore other opportunities.”
It’s possible Conine could continue working as a television broadcaster for Marlins games, but that decision rests with Fox Sports Florida and is a “totally separate deal.”
But Conine would have preferred continuing to work with the Marlins.
“That’s who I am. I’m a Marlin,” Conine said. “I’m sad going forward that I’m not going to be a part of it.”
McKeon is not expected to receive an offer, as FanRag report.
The Yankees’ decision to part ways with manager Joe Girardi - and Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s history as a Yankees superstar - caused several media outlets to speculate Thursday about the possibility of the Marlins and Yankees essentially swapping managers.
But the Yankees had not reached out to Mattingly as of Thursday afternoon, according to a source. And even though new Marlins owner Derek Jeter and Girardi have a strong relationship, Jeter also has a good relationship with Mattingly and has left Marlins people with the impression that Mattingly will return next season, while declining to address the matter publicly.
Jeter and Mattingly plan to speak about the team in the coming days.
Mattingly has two seasons left on his contract and hiring Girardi not only require paying a new manager but also require paying off the $5 million due Mattingly. And that wouldn’t seem appealing to cost-conscious new ownership when the Marlins aren’t expected to be a playoff contender in the immediate future.
The New York Daily News said the Yankees play to hire a young manager to replace Girardi and neither that publication nor The New York Post listed Mattingly, 56, among candidates.
Girardi, who has a home in Parkland, managed the Marlins to a better-than-expected 78-84 record in 2006 but was fired because of a deteriorating relationship with owner Jeffrey Loria.
• Outfielder/baserunning coach Lorenzo Bundy and bullpen coach Jeff Urgelles were among employees dropped by the Marlins in recent days. The new owners have dumped more than 20 employees since taking over.
• There isn’t expected to be a large migration of Yankees employees to the Marlins. One Marlins source said the Marlins will not take any more Yankees employees unless they specifically negotiate with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to acquire them.