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Updated: April 23rd, 2013 10:07pm
Marlins manager Mike Redmond 'still a grinder' as he faces old team

Marlins manager Mike Redmond 'still a grinder' as he faces old team

by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- If any of Mike Redmond's traits is going to rub off on his new club, it might as well be positivity, which can be hard to come by for a team coming off a 93-loss season that has just four wins in its first 19 games.

In fact, the Miami Marlins team Redmond is managing entered Tuesday's doubleheader at Target Field with as many losses (15) as the Minnesota Twins had games played.

But if you ask Ron Gardenhire, who managed Redmond from 2005-'09 with the Twins, that's exactly what the guy affectionately known as "Red Dog" brings to the table for a youthful Marlins team that came to the Twin Cities with a minus-46 run differential and an offense scoring just 2.3 runs per game -- indications their 4-15 record isn't the least bit unlucky.

"He's a really positive guy," Gardenhire said. "He's got all the knowledge. He's been there and done it. When you come to the park every day, he's going to make it fun. He understands that, coming to the ballpark, you have to get guys excited to come to the park. And you'll definitely see that from him."

The Twins saw a bit of Redmond in spring training, and Gardenhire doesn't seem to be the least bit surprised that Redmond ascended to the managerial peak just two years after taking his first coaching job in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

"We got to see him in spring training," Gardenhire said. "He's a great guy, an ex-catcher. He paid attention back when he was in our dugout. He was always into the game. It's fun to see him over there. We all knew he'd be in the part of the game eventually. It's fun to see him there. He's a class guy."

Does that mean Gardenhire wants to lend Redmond some tricks of the trade?

"Absolutely not," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "Not until he leaves town."

Positivity isn't the only thing Redmond brings to the table. He still feels he's a lot like his player self while at the helm of the Marlins.

"I'm still a grinder," Redmond said. "I spent a lot of time looking at video and doing all that stuff, trying to be the best manager that I can. I still have the same personality."

Redmond said he learned a few things about the game from Gardenhire, including one thing about protecting his players.

"Gardy showed so much faith in players -- me especially," Redmond said. "I remember he used to hit me third in the lineup when Joe (Mauer) took the day off. I remember you guys all used to give him a bad time because you're like, 'How do you hit Mike Redmond third? That's crazy.' I think I hit .340 that year!"

But it certainly wasn't a managerial trait lost on Redmond, who will likely have to go to battle a considerable amount in what looks to be a tough year to come in Miami.

"He backed his players up," Redmond said. "He was always in our corner, and we knew that, and we played hard for him.

"He made it pretty simple. He said, 'Hey, you guys play hard for me and play the game the right way and you'll never have a problem.' That was true. We played hard. We went out there to win. I learned a lot from Gardy. I have a lot of respect for Gardy, and he knows that."

One thing different about Redmond these days is he doesn't have as much of a wild streak as he did as a player.

"Obviously, I can't do some of the crazy stuff that I used to do," Redmond said. "I like to talk to the guys. I still have a good relationship with guys. I like to talk with them and keep them fired up. I don't give up. I'm still from the first inning to the ninth trying to find out ways to win, trying to figure out ways to get guys in good situations where we can be successful.

"I'm a competitor. I always have been. It doesn't matter if I'm managing or playing, I'm still a competitor."

Redmond went on to further emphasize the difference between being a player and a manager, saying, "I learn at least one or two things every day and that's fun. I think as a player, you're just out there trying to figure out how to win. But as a manager, you learn something every day. If something comes up that you haven't seen or a situation that you have to make a decision on, that's fun to be able to still go out and see new things in this game. That's what makes it such a great game."

All in all, Redmond seems at ease in his new digs, despite the pressure of his first big league job and a losing record.

Prior to Tuesday's first game, Redmond donned shorts and tennis shoes in the dugout despite temps in the high-30s because "I don't gotta play today."

Redmond spoke at length about his time in Minnesota -- first about playing at the Metrodome, and secondly about how he spent his time off in a not-so-strange city yesterday.

Asked if he'd accidentally driven to the Metrodome, his home field for all five seasons as a Twin, Redmond said the Marlins' bus driver had gotten a bit turned around from the hotel to the stadium, so he was worried he might see the 'Dome anyway.

"It brought back a lot of memories," Redmond said. "Mostly the smell of the Metrodome. I chatted yesterday with (bullpen catcher) Nate Dammann, remembering how guys showed up at like 2:30. Nobody got there early to the Metrodome. You got there, you put your uniform on, you went straight to the cage, you went straight out onto the field. When the game was over, you ate and left.

"We were there strictly for business in the Metrodome. This place is obviously nice. I played here in my last year as a player (with the Cleveland Indians) in 2010."

How did he fare in that game?

"I got an infield single, if you guys were wondering, so you don't have to look it up," Redmond said. "It was an infield single. My one and only game here I'm 1-for-3."

When the conversation turned to whether or not the Twins and Redmond had talks about a reunion in the past, Redmond said not really, as things just didn't really line up.

"I had a couple conversations, but it just didn't fit," Redmond said. "There wasn't a fit there. I took an opportunity with the Blue Jays. They really wanted me to come over there and gave me basically a choice of three different jobs, depending on whether I wanted it to be part time, full-time or how I could have done a half-season. I took the full season, and I'm glad I did because I knew I was either going to really like it or really hate it at the end of that year.

"When you do a full season, that's a grind, especially after being a player. I remember walking in there the first game and I was like, 'Man, I made the right decision.' I love it. I love the responsibility. I love the pressure. When you're managing, it's different. You're competing and you're winning.

"As a player, the wins are so satisfying because you're out there grinding. As a manager, it's just different. You don't have the same control like you did as a player. I always felt like as a player, if we lost four or five games in a row, I wanted to play. I'm like, get me in this game so we can win. Now you're motivating guys to go out there and win. I felt like in a way that's what I did as a player, too. It's a good fit."

And what's his mantra as a manager?

"I learn at least one or two things every day and that's fun," Redmond said. "I think as a player, you're just out there trying to figure out how to win. But as a manager, you learn something every day. If something comes up that you haven't seen or a situation that you have to make a decision on, that's fun to be able to still go out and see new things in this game. That's what makes it such a great game."

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
In this story: Ron Gardenhire
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