The Miami Marlins, in hiring their new manager, have turned to an old friend.
Former catcher Mike Redmond, who played for the Marlins from 1998 to 2004, will replace Ozzie Guillen, the team announced Thursday.
Redmond, 41, received a three-year contract, and the Marlins also have rehired Perry Hill to be their first base and infield coach. Hill was with the Marlins from 2002 to ’07.
The Marlins fired Guillen last month after he completed the first year of a four-year, $10 million contract. Redmond was much more affordable — his previous managing experience was within the Toronto Blue Jays organization at Class A affiliates Dunedin and Lansing over the past two seasons.
Former major-league manager Larry Bowa, Tigers hitting instructor Lloyd McClendon and Reds pitching coach Bryan Price also interviewed for the Marlins’ vacancy. Price withdrew from consideration last week.
News of Redmond’s hiring first was reported by CBSSports.com.
A former major league catcher, Redmond had not interviewed for a big league job until he met with the Marlins last week. He will be introduced as the Marlins’ fifth manager since mid-2010 at a news conference at their ballpark Friday.
Guillen said he would be rooting for Redmond.
”Congrats Mike Redmond,” Guillen tweeted. ”Good luck buddy u have great guys going to play for you. … Hope the best for you. u are a good baseball man and you will have fun with the players.”
Guillen was fired last week after only one season with the Marlins. A year ago they traded two minor league players to obtain him from the Chicago White Sox and gave him a team-record $10 million, four-year deal.
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.
”It’s a great hire,” said Jack McKeon, who managed Redmond with the Marlins. ”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, and they still fondly recall him taking batting practice naked in an indoor cage several days in a row to help the 2003 team snap a slump.
McKeon claimed no firsthand knowledge of the episode but added, ”Mike was a guy who kept everybody loose.”
Because of Redmond’s ties to Miami owner Jeffrey Loria and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, he was considered the front-runner for the job.
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 was chosen Midwest League manager of the year in 2011, his first as a manager, after guiding the Lansing Lugnuts to a 77-60 record and an appearance in the league finals. This year he managed Dunedin to a 78-55 record and a berth in the Florida State League playoffs.
The rebranded Marlins moved into a new ballpark this year with a heftier payroll and high hopes, but the promising season began to derail in the first week with Guillen’s laudatory comments about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Six months later, the episode was a factor in the decision to fire Guillen.
A lousy record and disappointing attendance didn’t help, either. Despite a free-agent spending spree a year ago, the Marlins finished last in the NL East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999. They drew more than 2.2 million fans but had projected attendance of nearly 3 million.
Under Loria, the Marlins have usually been among baseball’s thriftiest teams. With revenue falling short of projections this year, the spending binge of last offseason is unlikely to be repeated.
Budget constraints will make it difficult to upgrade a team that batted .244, the worst average in franchise history. The Marlins scored the fewest runs per game since their first year in 1993.
In the Marlins’ 20 seasons they have reached the postseason only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.