MIAMI – The Miami Marlins’ celebrity manager was a bust, so they’re calling one up from the minors.
Mike Redmond, who played for the Portland Sea Dogs and grew up in the Marlins’ system, was hired Thursday to replace Ozzie Guillen.
A former major league catcher, Redmond, 41, becomes the first former Sea Dog to manage a major league team. He had not interviewed for a big league job until he met with the Marlins last week.
Redmond, who spent the past two years managing Class A teams for the Toronto Blue Jays, received a three-year contract and will be introduced Friday as the Marlins’ fifth manager since mid-2010.
Guillen, who signed a $10 million, four-year deal, was fired last week after only one season. He said in a tweet that he would be rooting for Redmond, calling him “a good baseball man.”
Redmond brings a much lower profile. A .287 hitter over 13 seasons, he played seven years for the Marlins and was the backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez on their 2003 World Series championship team. He retired in 2010 after stints with the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins.
“He’ll make a good one,” said Carlos Tosca, Redmond’s manager with the 1995 and 1996 Sea Dogs, both of whom won divisional titles, and a former major league manager himself with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I think the world of Mike. This will be my 34th year (in professional baseball) and he ranks right at the top of my list, in terms of personality, of players who overachieved, who got the most out of his ability, and influenced his teammates.”
Jack McKeon, who managed Redmond with the Marlins, was equally effusive. “I’m just delighted. He’s a very knowledgeable young man. He was an unselfish player and dedicated. I was very impressed when I had him the years I was in Florida. I thought someday he would make a good manager.”
Redmond was popular with teammates because of his droll wit.
“Mike,” said McKeon, “was a guy who kept everybody loose.”
Also interviewed were former major league manager Larry Bowa, former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon and Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Bryan Price.
Redmond, becomes the 11th former catcher among current managers, and even during his playing days, he expressed an interest in managing. Besides McKeon, he played for Jim Leyland and Ron Gardenhire, among others.
“People ask you, ‘What’s your style?”‘ Redmond said last week. “I learned a lot from all of my managers. … There are so many guys I learned different things from. I sat and listened and watched and learned.”
Redmond’s potential as a leader was recognized as far back as 1998 when he started the season in Portland after spurning a spring training offer to become a minor league coach because the Marlins didn’t think he had the talent to reach the majors as a catcher.
A series of injuries, trades and promotions landed Redmond in the big leagues by the end of May, and he lasted 13 seasons as a back-up catcher with a reputation for defense, handling pitchers and hitting to the opposite field.
When Tosca was interviewed by the New York Mets for a managerial opening, “They asked me what my thoughts were on their personnel,” said Tosca, by phone from his home in Roswell, Ga.
“I said the first thing I would do is get Mike Redmond on this team, if you’re talking about changing the culture and changing the influence on a team. He’s a special person.”