Redmond rarin’ for Marlins to get started

New manager Mike Redmond arrived at the Miami Marlins’ spring
training facility around 5 a.m. Monday. A few hours later, slugger
Giancarlo Stanton arrived, a few days earlier than his requested
reporting date.

Expectations may be low for the Marlins, yet their excitement
level about getting spring training started is clearly high.

The last get-ready day for the Marlins was Monday. Boxes were
wheeled in and out of the spring facility, a moving truck loaded
with equipment was outside and there was plenty of acquaintances
being made for the first time. On Tuesday, workouts officially
begin, pitchers and catchers having their first session of the
spring.

”It was good to see all the guys and get to finally meet some
of the guys that I’ve read so much about,” Redmond said. ”Like I
said, everybody’s excited. Obviously, we’ve got a tremendous
opportunity for guys in this camp and I think everybody realizes
that. It’s a fresh start.”

For everyone, that is. Himself included.

Redmond was a backup catcher on the Marlins’ team that started
the 2003 season with limited expectations and wound up winning the
World Series – a season that began, just as this one will, at the
spring facility in Jupiter. He’s now the man in charge, taking over
from Ozzie Guillen as part of the Marlins’ big offseason revamping,
one that carved off huge portions of the team’s payroll and ushered
in a rebuilding era.

Picked by some as a title contender last season, the Marlins
sputtered except for one dazzling stretch in May. They finished
with 69 wins, only good enough for last in the NL East.

”We’re done talking about what happened last year,” Redmond
said, standing outside on a breezy 79-degree morning. ”It’s over.
We’re moving forward. We’re going to talk about, day to day, what
goes on and how we can build this thing back up and get this thing
headed in the right direction. It doesn’t matter what you did last
year. We’re focusing on what you can do for us and this team in the
future and tomorrow and the next day after that.”

Even before the first pitch of the spring gets thrown, Redmond
has his first win. His beat-the-sunrise arrival time put him at
work about an hour before Juan Pierre – a notoriously early riser –
arrived to get his day started.

Some paperwork, some final planning for the first few workouts,
his own physical, things like that were all part of Redmond’s
Monday routine. Come Tuesday, it’ll be off to the manicured
practiced fields, ready for real work.

”If he beats me here, that’s no problem,” Pierre said. ”It’s
just fun to be back at it. But we’ll see how long that lasts.”

Stanton did not take questions from reporters as he and pitcher
Ricky Nolasco walked into the clubhouse, and he didn’t join
teammates at a fan event at the Marlins’ ballpark in Miami – about
90 minutes south of the spring-training site – over the
weekend.

He was certainly going to get some questions from Redmond, who
was slightly eager to meet his best hitter.

”I hadn’t seen him,” Redmond said, not long after Stanton’s
arrival. ”Looking forward to getting a chance to talk to him a
little bit.”

For as much as Redmond talked about moving forward, both as
individuals and a franchise, Monday was tinged with nostalgia for
Miami’s first-year skipper. He said he found himself regularly
gravitating from the manager’s office toward the clubhouse, looking
for his old locker that, as he put it, was far from where the
Marlins’ star players would be assigned space.

Even the food room off the clubhouse brought back memories.
Redmond said that he remembers a time where whenever he would walk
into that room, Miguel Cabrera’s father would be in there
dining.

”A lot of good memories, you know? … Remembering what we went
through, all the good times, it brought back a lot of good
memories,” Redmond said. ”To say that I’m excited about tomorrow
and this season is an understatement.”

Pierre said his teammate-turned-manager’s excitement level is
unmistakable, and those 5 a.m. arrivals is one way for it to
show.

”I don’t think he was here that early when I played with him,”
Pierre said. ”But I think he’s as excited as ever. His first
go-round as a manager, that’s a big deal. That’s not anything to
take lightly, because guys have been waiting years and years to
become a manager of a team and for him to do it so quick … we
always knew he was going to be a manager. He always had that
demeanor.”