MIAMI — Even as a Lansing Lugnut, Mike Redmond loved managing.
Close friend Mike Lowell recalls a conversation they had in 2011, shortly after Redmond became the skipper for the Single-A Lugnuts, who happened to be playing a Midwest League road game.
“I went to visit him in Kane County. He was like, ‘This is awesome!”’ says Lowell, laughing and shaking his head. “I’m really impressed he has that passion for it.”
Two years later, Redmond still thinks his job is awesome. It’s just that the stage is bigger. He’s one of six new managers in the majors this year, replacing Ozzie Guillen with the Miami Marlins.
No more Midwest League bus trips.
“Things have changed a lot — in a great way,” says Redmond, a former major league backup catcher. “When I retired, this was the goal — to get back in the big leagues. The Marlins have given me a tremendous opportunity, and I’m going to go out there and give them everything I’ve got.”
Guillen became a symbol for all that went wrong with the Marlins last year, which was a lot.
An uncharacteristic spending spree that included the hiring of Guillen made the Marlins the buzz of baseball as they moved into a new ballpark. But the season began to go bust in the first week, when Guillen caused a tempest by praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Guillen nearly got fired then. Instead, the Marlins waited until the end of their disappointing 93-loss, last-place season to let him go.
The 41-year-old Redmond takes over a roster reconstructed after a dismantling pared the payroll from $90 million to about $40 million. Expectations are as modest as the budget, with the Marlins widely projected to finish last — again — in the NL East.
“Nobody gives us a chance,” Redmond says. “So we’re going to go out there and see if we can prove them wrong.”