Jennings has longtime friend as sounding board

Jennings has longtime friend as sounding board

MIAMI -- Their friendship dates back more than 30 years, when they were growing up in Mobile, Ala. They previously worked together in the Mariners' organization, and now they are side by side in the Marlins' dugout.

Dan Jennings agreed to become Marlins manager under the condition his longtime buddy, Mike Goff, would be his bench coach.

Goff had been Miami's advance scout while Jennings was the general manager. Without any previous professional coaching or managing experience, Jennings wanted his sounding board in the dugout to be a trusted ally.

"You never know in life what's going to happen," Goff said. "I stayed on the development side. He stayed on the scouting side. Somehow we crossed paths again."

Jennings is leaning heavily on Goff's input regarding game strategy.

"When you sit in this dugout, this game is 100 mph," Goff said. "When the game gets into that sixth, seventh, eighth inning, when the manager gets involved as far as making decisions, it's about 150 mph, especially for someone who hasn't been in the dugout for a long time."

The Marlins are aware there are going to be some early growing pains as different situations surface.

"It's just a matter of getting him to slow down and to think the situation out," Goff said. "Get his mind thinking two, three innings ahead. It takes a little time to do that. That's what I've got to do for him. That's what Chuck Hernandez, the pitching coach, has got to do for him."

The Marlins understand there will be plenty of second-guessing and scrutiny over the decision to transition their GM to manager. Whenever there is a questionable move, it will be dissected by the media.

It happened over a double-switch in Tuesday's 4-2 loss, when Jennings placed Ichiro Suzuki in the ninth spot, and had the pitcher hit cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton. Marcell Ozuna was taken out, with Ichiro taking over in center field.

The Marlins had already planned on sliding Justin Bour, who has hit cleanup, into the fourth spot when it was the pitcher's turn to hit.

Second-guessing is part of the game. But Goff notes Jennings has the people skills to pull this unorthodox transition off.

"D.J. is a born leader," Goff said. "There's no question about it. It's going to take a little bit of time for these guys to adjust to him. He's always had the ability to make people feel and perform better than what they are, which is what it takes in a great manager. It takes that mentality to get people to play above their ability."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.