Winter Meetings interview with Mike Redmond

Winter Meetings interview with Mike Redmond

Q. What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge with a young team?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I think obviously the experience probably with the players is going to be -- we've got a lot of young guys. Obviously we've just gotten really young, and so I think the most important thing is we've got to get down there and we're going to have to continue to teach and develop in the Big Leagues.

I remember coming up in 1998 with 19 rookies. It was probably a similar sort of situation. And we had coaches that taught and developed, and that's what we did. We went in there and cut our teeth in the Big Leagues.

We have a lot of talented players and great opportunities for guys to go out there and establish themselves as Major League players, and that's what we're going to do. We are going to get in there, we're going to teach, we are going to change the culture, and we're starting off fresh. You know, I'm excited for it.

Q. How soon -- how long do you think it's going to take before you guys can realistically compete against the other teams in the division, teams that are improving this winter?

MIKE REDMOND: Right. Well, there's not a timetable. I mean, people forget that I still haven't seen these guys play. I haven't seen some of these guys play a game yet. It's one thing watching them on video. That's why Spring Training is going to be such an important part for me to get in there, be able to talk to these guys, to watch these guys play, to see what we've got, to be able to analyze what kind of players we have, where these guys are going to fit in the order, in the lineup, and go from there.

I'm excited for Spring Training to start, to be able to get out there and watch these guys play and get things going.

Q. When they hired you, guys like Buehrle and Raines were still on the roster. Did you have an inkling of things that were lying ahead for the team?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I've gotten this question many times, and I mean, obviously I knew that the organization was not happy with the 93 losses and I knew there was going to be some changes. So I knew that going in. And like I said, I mean, we've picked up a lot of great young players. It's been mentioned. We're starting with a clean slate, and we're going to be able to go out there and develop these young players the way that the organization and myself as we see it, creating a winning environment, a winning culture, getting back to what helped to win the Marlins the World Series in 2003, which was playing the game the right way, playing the game hard. Getting back to baseball. That's what we're focusing on, and that's why I'm excited.

Q. It seems like among the fans there's a sense of broken trust, you could say. How do you restore it being the team ambassador?

MIKE REDMOND: My focus is on the field and the players. What we're going to do is focus on what we can control as players, and that's going out there and playing the game. We can't control anything outside of the field and the way we go out there and we go about our business. I'm going to make those guys accountable for themselves on the field as well as myself and my staff. We're going to go out there and we're going to develop baseball players and get back to the winning ways. We can't control the situation off the field. My job is to manage a ballclub, to get these guys and develop these guys, and I'm excited for that.

Q. You are going to be one of the more recognizable figures off the field as the manager and somebody who played for the team for seven years.

MIKE REDMOND: Right.

Q. I would imagine you're selling that to the fans to some extent?

MIKE REDMOND: Absolutely. We're going out there and we're going to play hard and we're going to create an excitement. We've got exciting young players. We're going to go out there and play the game hard and play the game the right way, focus on the little things. We're going to have to bunt, we're going to have to hit and run. We have the ability to be an exciting ballclub, and obviously it's going to be work. It's going to be a challenge.

But at the same time, too, I'm not afraid of that, and I'm excited for that opportunity and to get this thing headed in the right direction.

Q. Have you thought about what -- still a couple months off, but what you plan to tell the players the first day of Spring Training, that first meeting?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I've thought about it, but I'm going to wait and tell the players first before I tell you guys. But I like that question.

Q. Are you going to mention the '98, '99 teams? You saw the team evolve over that term into a World Series team.

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I think part of where we're headed, you have to reflect on the past, right? That's just the way it is, man. I was on that team. And because of the changes, I mean, it allowed myself to get to the Big Leagues. I mean, Mark Kotsay, Alex González, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, you go through the names of guys that were tremendous players, all stars, how many World Series rings are on that -- are out of that list of names? And maybe kind of a similar situation where they started over. With that fresh start, you definitely have to remind those guys of that. That'll be part of probably some of the things that I say. But yeah, I do have a plan, and I'm excited for it. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Q. Who have been influential managers for you?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I played for a lot of different guys, and sort of completely different types of managers. Obviously Jim Leyland was my first manager in 1998. I learned so much from him. He was a big matchup guy, and he got me into situations for me personally as a player for me to be successful. Had I gone out there and played against the Madduxes and the Kerry Woods right out of the chute, I may not be sitting here today. He started me in against lefties, soft throwing lefties, but it allowed me to establish myself and kind of cut my teeth in the Big Leagues with some confidence, and it just kind of built from there.

Ron Gardenhire, when I went to the Twins, Gardy was great. Gardy was a tremendous players' manager. I don't know if there's a guy that I've played for that backed his players more than Gardy did. It's definitely something that I learned from him. Obviously you've seen him get thrown out of games, back his players. But he fought for his guys, and that was one of the things I have never forgotten.

Jack McKeon. He showed so much faith in his players. If you were a guy he ran you out there. It didn't matter if you were 0 for 16, 0 for 17, 0 for 20. If you were his guy, you played. Maybe for the bench players at the time we didn't appreciate it, but he got me into a World Series, in Game 2, and he didn't have to do it. I think we were down five or six runs in Game 2 and gave Pudge a little bit of blow and got me in there and he gave me a couple innings and a bat and I'll never forget that. I'll always be thankful to him for that. I was just kind of like, hey, man, thanks for being in there and being part of the team and keeping guys pumped up.

John Boles, you know, he was a mentor of mine coming up through the Minor Leagues. He saved me a couple times. I think there was a couple times where they wanted to send me down, and he battled for me and he fought for me, and I know we've had a few conversations, and I found that out later.

So like I said, there's lots of guys that I learned from, but the biggest thing is that as a catcher, as a backup catcher, I sat there and I watched. I sat there and paid attention. I'd watch what moves guys made, when they made them. I tried to learn.

I love the game, I love to study the game. I always took so much pride in being a backup catcher. I wanted to be the best backup catcher. I knew if I wasn't going to be a starter, I wanted to be the best backup catcher in the league. And I knew the only way I was going to be able to do that was if I paid attention and watched and learn and studied, and I did that.

It's just like I've said many times, too, Leyland told me, we had a conversation a year before I retired, and he said, you understand this game, he goes, you're going to have to get down there and manage. I said, all right, Skip. So as soon as I retired, bam, I went down to A Ball and started managing. I went down there and I got some experience, and here we are.

Q. How do you change a culture?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I think we have to get back to our winning ways, man. We have to talk a lot. We're going to have to communicate. I think part of what makes me -- what made me as a teammate, 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 time. 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.

We're going to have to teach, we are going to have to develop. We're going to have to have a great plan for guys offensively. We're going to have to plan defensively, and that's how we're going to do it.

Q. You've got two guys like Ricky and Giancarlo, whose names have been out there. How do you get them completely on board and focused?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I've gotten asked this question a few times, and I get it, man. I played. When guys get traded, it hurts. Why, because you're losing friends, you're losing teammates, you're losing guys that you've a lot of times 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 and a limited amount of time to go out there and establish yourself as a player. I know that when we get out there and we start focusing on baseball, everything is going to be fine. Because you know what, when you're on that field, that's what you're focused on. You're focused on baseball and the things that you can control, and that's preparing yourself, your attitude, your effort going out there, doing what you've got to do not only for the team but for your family.

Those guys know what's at stake. Giancarlo knows how big a part of this organization and how big a part of our lineup, how important he is, and I know that when the bell rings, he's going to be ready. He'll answer it.

Q. In 1998, there was a lot of fan anger because they had basically blown up the World Series winning team. They didn't blow up a World Series winning team this time, but there's still a lot of fan anger. Did you sense any of that in '98 at all with the fans and also because of Leyland because he had just managed the World Series team?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I think talking about Leyland, and I actually forgot to mention this, but no, that was one of the things that impressed me the most is he managed those games like it was a World Series game. Never once -- never once did I ever sense that he had given up in a game or was just like, hey, whatever, we lost 100 games already, what's another one. Not one time. He honestly managed every single game to win, and that was so impressive to me. And as players, you know, we just didn't think about it. We had 19 rookies. We went out there, and there was games where we'd be out of it the first day and we'd go into Orlando with Smoltz and Maddux and Glavine and that lineup and Andrew Jones and Chipper, and man, we're down four or five nothing in the first, walking off the field going what just happened? But we still played. We competed, but we learned from it. We went out there and we took it as like, all right, man, we're down 4 0. So what. Let's go. We've still got a lot of game left, and we made the most of it.

And when we won in 2003, for the guys that were there that whole time, which was quite a few of us, that's what was probably the most satisfying was that 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 the things that we overcame.

That was things that we talked about, Mikey Lowell and all those guys, Juan Pierre, and we're never forget that. We'll never forget those days and what we accomplished and how satisfying that was.

Q. Do you take that as sort of your

MIKE REDMOND: Are you trying to like write out my whole Spring Training speech? Is that the way you want it to go?

Q. No, no. Do anything you want.

MIKE REDMOND: I'm just kidding.

Q. A manager like Joe Maddon will make a lot of data driven decisions which will include an extreme shift. He's hit his catcher first. He's hit Carlos Peña first. Do you see yourself doing things like that or are you going to be a pretty traditional manager?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I shifted guys in the Minor Leagues, so I don't know. I think sometimes it just depends. I'm a guy that's going to study all the information that I can get, and if I feel like we need to switch guys or totally move guys around, if that's the best opportunity we have to get guys out, then we'll do it.

As far as like -- I don't know that you necessarily pre determine that as a manager, but obviously you have so much more information in the Big Leagues that that definitely helps. But we'll look at every team and every situation on my coaching staff and we'll -- if you're asking me am I going to be aggressive or am I going to play it by the book, I don't know. I mean, I guess that's to be determined.

Q. Because I've had a few baseball people tell me that a reason that more managers don't use extreme shifts or maybe like hit a catcher first is if it fails, they look bad because it's not traditional. So it's a willingness thing to say I don't care what the reaction will be. This is going to help us win. As a first year manager, will that be tough?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I'm going to do what's best for the team. When I was in Minnesota, I hit third. And Joe Mauer took a day off and I hit third, and I hit .340 that year. And everybody was like, hey, man, what are you doing, but it worked. I'm going to manage the game the way I feel is best for the team and what gives our team the best chance to win. If it's -- if we have stats and data that show, hey, we need to shift this guy or we need to do whatever or this guy has got better numbers against this pitcher, then we'll look at that.

I mean, I don't know about hitting a catcher lead off, but I guess if you had a guy who could run and then -- it could make sense.

Q. Do you have any theories on building a lineup around Stanton? Are you a believer in protection or maybe your better hitters in front of him?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, like I said, that's -- obviously Morrison, him, he's an option to hit behind Stanton. We're definitely going to need somebody to hit behind him. But more importantly we're going to have to try to get guys on base in front of him and get him those opportunities to drive those runs in.

We're going to have to grind out at bats and get guys on base. We're going to have to bunt, we're going to have to hit and run, we're going to have to do a lot of things.

I was aggressive when I was in the Minor Leagues and we're going to be aggressive in the Big Leagues. We have to be.

Q. Do you see Stanton hitting third or fourth?

MIKE REDMOND: I see him hitting fourth. I see Morrison hitting behind him, and then probably going Brantly and then maybe Hechavarria eighth. But like I said, we'll see. Like I said, I mean, I could give you 50 different lineup scenarios right now and that could change the first game of Spring Training. We'll see. Like I said, I'm excited to get out there and get a chance to see these guys play and see what we've got and see where they best fit.

Q. Seems like a lot of teams are taking shots at guys that haven't managed in the Big Leagues before and some of those guys have even managed in the Minors. What do you need as resources to go to this level? Is it a coaching staff with Big League coaching experience? What kind of things do you feel like you need to be successful as a manager?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I think I -- I played 13 years in the Big Leagues, and I think I have a lot of experience. You know, I went down, I managed, I made out lineups. I had a lot of freedom as a Minor League manager to do what I want. Like I said, I could shift guys, I could situational pitch. I ran the game to win.

In the Blue Jays' system, it was great because we talked about developing a winning attitude and approach. So we were able to -- I was able to do that, and I had a lot of freedom to do that.

So you know, I feel like I'm ready for this, and obviously the coaching staff is going to be huge and help us out. It's a team effort. People were asking me today. It's going to be a team effort out there and not just players but coaches and front office. It's going to take a lot of work, a lot of communication. We've all got to be on the same page and get this thing headed in the right direction.

Q. This is still the same game whether it's A Ball or

MIKE REDMOND: Well, yeah, sure, but the players are better and hit farther and the pitchers, whatever. But it is. I've been in it for, what, 20 years now professionally. You know, I've always had good instincts, I've always trusted my instincts as a catcher. I know that I still love to win and love to compete. Obviously I can't be out on the field anymore, but man, I get just as fired up as I did as a player and excited. This is what I've wanted to do my whole career, and some people say maybe that this was my destiny to be a Big League manager.

Like I said in my press conference today, my first baseball card said, "Will be a coach when his playing days are over." I was able to fight that off for quite a few years, but here we are.

Q. Freddie said that you were that close before you were ever a player to becoming a coach?

MIKE REDMOND: I was. Yeah, there was talks. There was talks. My 1997 98, hey, this guy has been in Double A a couple years, what are we going to do with him? I'm sure there was people going, man, let's get rid of this guy, he can't hit. He's a .250 hitter, he's small, he can't play. But I got the opportunity and I got to the Big Leagues and Leyland threw me in there. He said, let's see what he can do. And I hit .330 that year. .250 Minor League hitter and I end up hitting .330. But I had to do it every year. It wasn't like it was given to me. I had to go out there and earn it every single year. I definitely had to grind, but I loved it. I love now -- one thing about playing and then managing is that when a guy comes to you and says, hey, what are you doing? I'm struggling. Well, I can tell him because we all went through it. I can say, hey, man, I used to try this or I used to try that. And I think this year, I had J.P., Aaron Sele, those fellows came down and they were hurt and they were rehabbing with Toronto, and I think where I really started getting excited about being back in the Big Leagues again is those guys came into my office and they were asking me about big league players. They're asking me, hey, how did you pitch, what -- he's asking me, how did you pitch so and so? And I'm like, man, this is great. These guys coming into my office asking me my experiences in the Big Leagues. And then you realize, hey, I mean, big league players, they want information. They love information, they want to learn. It doesn't matter if they've been in the Big Leagues for 20 years or half a year. Jim Thome and I were talking about this the other night. You want to still be learning in this game. It doesn't matter if you've been in it for 20 years or a half a year.

Q. Guys like Aaron Sele really create a different attitude at the big league level. Do you like that sort of brashness but it's confidence, a little emotion?

MIKE REDMOND: Absolutely, man. I mean, this is a -- I like guys that get fired up out there, man. I never could understand how you can play a three hour baseball game and not get excited. Obviously you've got to be careful. We don't want you getting too frustrated. Highs and lows; you know baseball. But I was an emotional player. If I got a big hit, I was fist pumping. That just was me because I loved it so much. Not everyone is like that, but I think that's just kind of the fun part of your team is you're going to have -- not every guy is going to be like that, but sometimes you can have a couple guys like that and they kind of feed off each other and can make guys -- it can create a nice environment.

Q. Have you and Glavine ever crossed paths?

MIKE REDMOND: We haven't, man. I saw him -- maybe one of my last years he was with the Mets and I was with the Twins, and he didn't pitch against us. But he asked me if I was getting any hits in the American League now that he was out of the National League. I said, well, I've gotten a few, but I'd still like another crack at you.

Q. You took pride as I recall and you drove an Explorer with no air conditioning?

MIKE REDMOND: Yeah, my wife's car, a '98 Explorer or it might have been a '92 Explorer or something like that.

Q. Everybody else was driving nice cars in the lot?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I'd love to say that I'm driving like a Mercedes or -- I've got a truck, a GMC pickup truck. I don't feel like I need to drive a Lexus to be cool. I mean, I'm wearing a suit. You think I like to wear a suit? (Laughter).

Q. Have you been in touch with (inaudible)?

MIKE REDMOND: I haven't talked to Nolasco, but Stan and I have had a conversation. We talked right before Thanksgiving, and yeah, I mean, we talked and touched on some of the things that I already talked about with him. You know, he's going to be fine. Obviously, like I said, when teammates and buddies get traded, it hurts. I've been in that situation, and anybody that's played this game over a long period of time, you've been there, and I get it. At the same time, too, I know that when the bell rings, when Spring Training starts, he knows what he's got to do. He knows exactly how important he is to this team and this organization, and this guy is an absolute monster, man. Everybody says the same thing that I talk to. I can't wait to see him get out there and hit and compete.

I know when Spring Training starts and the games start, things are going to be fine, and he's going to be on board and he's going to go out there and he's going to hit fourth and hopefully drive in a ton of runs.

Q. When did you first hear about him? He came up in June of '10, and when did you kind of hear

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I got to see -- I saw a lot of games this summer being in Dunedin, and I got to see him play quite a bit on TV, and that guy can really hit.

Q. It was pretty much his year?

MIKE REDMOND: He makes that ballpark down there in Miami look small, and that's not easy to do. He's definitely an exciting player. He's got a chance to have a big year.

Q. You don't even know the entire roster, but do you see a lot of guys playing situationally, you might have to do a little tuning? How do you kind of see this roster or how you have to use it?

MIKE REDMOND: Well, I mean, I think that's kind of a work in progress. Like I said, I think it's probably too early to try to say, hey, this guy is going to play a certain amount of days a week or this guy, however that's going to work. That's something that we're going to figure out in Spring Training. Once I get to see these guys play and see who can do what, we'll figure that out. But there may be a situation where guys are going to be moving around a little bit and we'll see what happens.