Excited Redmond ready to change Marlins' culture
First-time MLB manager eager to develop Miami's young talent
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Building a winning culture will be among the biggest challenges for Mike Redmond, but it is something the new Marlins manager is certainly familiar with.
During his seven-year tenure as a backup catcher for the Marlins, Redmond endured the hardships of a 108-loss season in 1998, as well as the elation of winning the 2003 World Series.
Rising to the pinnacle of the sport came through hard work and resiliency by many players who had known mostly losing before capturing the game's biggest prize.
"I remember coming up in 1998 with 19 rookies," Redmond said on Wednesday during his interview session at the Winter Meetings. "It was probably a similar situation [to now]. We had coaches who taught and developed. That's what we did. We went in there and cut our teeth in the big leagues."
Redmond inherits a rebuilding situation in Miami. After underperforming and finishing 69-93 in 2012, the team is undergoing a transformation. To Redmond, there are similarities now to when he broke in as a rookie.
The Marlins won the World Series in 1997, but the championship roster was taken apart the following year. Redmond appeared in 37 games in '98 on a team that finished 54-108. Five years later, the Marlins were once again champs.
"When we won it in '03, for the guys who were there the whole time -- which was quite a few of us -- that's what was probably the most satisfying," Redmond said. "We were there in the darkest days. And then when we won it, we were there at the end. And it was so satisfying. Not just to win a World Series, but because of what we went through and all of the things we overcame."
The road back to contention will be a difficult one for the Marlins. There has been dramatic roster turnover, and the 2013 team will be substantially younger while the payroll will settle in the $40 million range. At 41, Redmond is the youngest manager in the big leagues.
After managing two seasons in the Blue Jays' Minor League system, Redmond is getting his first big league managing break.
"Obviously, I knew the organization was not happy with the 93 losses, and that there was going to be some changes," said Redmond, who replaced Ozzie Guillen on Nov. 1. "I knew that going in. We've picked up a lot of great young players. We're starting with a clean slate. We're going to be able to go out there and develop these young players."
Only two position players from the 2012 Opening Day roster are expected to be in the lineup for the '13 opener -- Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison. And the rotation features one established veteran, Ricky Nolasco.
"This is a great opportunity for guys to go out there and establish themselves as Major League players," Redmond said. "That's what we're going to do. We're going to go in there, we're going to teach and we're going to change the culture. We're starting off fresh. I'm excited for it."
The culture change will involve an attention to detail and willingness to sacrifice and play the game with passion.
"We have to talk a lot," Redmond said. "We're going to have to communicate. I think part of what made me as a teammate and what made me as a manager is my communication. I like to talk to guys. I'm going to be super positive. We're going to work hard, but we're going to focus on playing the game the right way. I'm not afraid during the course of a game to make sure that we're doing that.
"We're going to focus, and if we focus and talk about running balls hard, playing every pitch, executing our pitches, then that's how we change a culture. We've got to be relentless, we've got to work harder than every team. We have to be better defenders. We're going to have to work harder on our defense. We're going to have to work hard in the cage. We're going to have to pitch better. That's how it's going to be, and it's going to have to be a laser-like focus in Spring Training. It's not about, hey, writing a lineup, throwing it up on the board and saying, 'Let's go get 'em.'"
Managing personalities also will be a big part of Redmond's job. One of his tasks is to make sure Stanton and Nolasco -- who both have been part of trade speculation -- buy into what the team is striving to establish.
Redmond understands the frustrations of Stanton and Nolasco, who are both upset over the high number of traded players.
"When guys get traded, it hurts," Redmond said. "Because you're losing friends, you're losing teammates, you're losing guys that you've come up with maybe through the Minor Leagues or whatever.
"You know, it's tough. But at the same time, too, as players, you have a limited time to go out there and establish yourself. I know that when we get out there and we start focusing on baseball, everything is going to be fine."