MIAMI — Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez had just hit a home run in his final at-bat of 2013.
The division rival Braves weren’t happy with how the eventual National League Rookie of the Year reacted to it, and the benches cleared.
After the game, Mike Redmond spoke with Fernandez. While addressing the media, he said the 21-year-old showed his youth and some immaturity.
Of all 162 games during Redmond’s first year as a Major League manager, that one stands out most to his former teammate and FOX Sports Florida analyst Cliff Floyd.
"That was a defining moment for him because he has to protect his player but also understand that the Braves are going to be mad from a competitive standpoint, from a pitcher’s standpoint, from a veteran player’s standpoint," Floyd said. "It’s all a learning process, and I think Red will get better. As you see the team get better I think you’ll see him get better as a manager."
So how do Redmond’s colleagues think he fared?
Long-time Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, who stopped by spring training last year to help out for a few days, asked around out of curiosity.
"I thought he did real well," Lowell said. "I’ve actually spoken to people from other organizations and what they’ve said is he did a great job because a young manager with a young team … they dealt with a lot of injuries early on and the rotation wasn’t even there. There were a lot of young guys (and) teaching them how to do things in the big leagues. He can’t fall back on any big-league experience from a managerial standpoint."
An amateur free agent in 1992, Redmond spent 13 seasons in the Majors (1998-2010). The first seven years were with the Marlins, which included the 2003 World Series team.
Redmond was always a backup catcher, something that may have molded him into managerial material. Lowell recalls how former manager Jeff Torborg would ask Redmond his opinion on whether a pitcher had another inning left in him. Floyd noticed Redmond taking notes while observing game situations.
The lifetime .287 hitter commanded respect no matter how much time on the field he got.
Former right-hander Carl Pavano, who played with Redmond in Florida and Minnesota, knew from the beginning his teammate would be a successful manager.
"Being a catcher I feel like they make very good instructors and managers," Pavano said. "He’s a really good person. For me, I really loved throwing to him as a pitcher. I think he’s good for the whole staff."
Even though the team finished with just the second 100-loss season in Marlins history in 2013, the pitching set the franchise record for best staff ERA (3.71).
Injuries forced Miami to play eight first basemen. Two-fifths of its projected starting rotation — right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez — started the year on the disabled list.
More than a dozen rookies, including outfielder Jake Marisnick and reliever Arquimedes Caminero, experienced life in the big leagues.
"I think he handled it the best he could," Floyd said. "The one thing he realized — and a lot of us who play the game know how this thing works — is you go as far as the players take you. I think he handled the team right. I don’t think there was a lot of pointing fingers from the boys. They were trying every night. They were just overmatched and weren’t consistent enough, and that happens with young clubs.
"He did the best he could in terms of masking it and not letting the losing with silly mistakes get to them too much. But Red’s a competitor, so I know he was pulling his hair out leaving the stadium. How to get through to these guys that the little things are going to make them better? I think you’ll see a better team this year."
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria played in a team-high 148 games and could one day win the Gold Glove. Projected Opening Day outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna both succeeded and struggled after their call-ups.
With the additions of veterans Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and Garrett Jones, consistency shouldn’t be as hard to come by.
"With young guys it’s tough, and I think he did it pretty well," Lowell said. "I think moving forward into next year it’s going to be that much easier. Guys have set roles and that’s when you can make some big jumps and put the team in the direction you want them in."
Floyd foresaw Redmond’s charisma and intelligence paying off. Lowell liked how the Gonzaga University graduate learned how to handle everything about the job — from managing egos to calling for a bullpen guy.
MLB’s all-time pinch-hit leader and former teammate Lenny Harris envisions the relationship bringing baseball to the forefront of South Florida sports.
"He’s the right guy for it," Harris. "He’s the perfect person for it. He’s a player manager. He knows what to do, what it takes to win. He was always been a big asset to our ballclub in 2003. He’s a motivator and he loves to win. No doubt in my mind if the kids buy into it he can bring a championship back to Florida."