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Redmond has learned from some of the best

New Marlins manager played under Leyland, Gardenhire, McKeon, Boles

Redmond has learned from some of the best
MIAMI -- As a player, Mike Redmond prided himself on being more than just a student of the game. During his 13-year big league career, the former backup catcher spent plenty of time studying managers.

Redmond had the good fortune of picking up traits and tidbits from some of the best in the business. Much of what he absorbed from them will help mold him into the type of manager he hopes to become with the Marlins.

When Redmond broke in as a rookie in 1998, Jim Leyland was managing the Marlins. He also developed a close bond in South Florida with John Boles, who managed him in the Minors and Majors. And in 2003, Redmond was Ivan Rodriguez's backup on a World Series championship team, guided by Jack McKeon. When he moved to Minnesota, Redmond spent five seasons receiving pointers from Ron Gardenhire.

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Those four have combined for more than 50 years of big league managerial experience.

"There are lots of guys that I learned from, but the biggest thing is that as a catcher, as a backup catcher, I sat there and I watched," Redmond said. "I sat there and paid attention. I'd watch what moves guys made, when they made them. I tried to learn."

At age 41, Redmond is the youngest manager in the big leagues, and he will be taking over a youthful and inexperienced squad. Redmond's style of managing will certainly evolve, but he has plenty of insights from his own playing days, as well as observing his former managers.

"I love the game, and I love to study the game," he said. "I always took so much pride in being a backup catcher. I wanted to be the best backup catcher.

"I knew if I wasn't going to be a starter, I wanted to be the best backup catcher in the league. And I knew the only way I was going to be able to do that was if I paid attention and watched and learned. If I did that, everything was going to be fine."

Redmond retired as a player after the 2010 season, and he immediately embarked on his managerial career. He spent two years in the Blue Jays' system, first with the Class A Lansing Lugnuts. And in '12, he moved up to the advanced Class A Dunedin Blue Jays.

Making the leap to the big leagues presents a whole different set of challenges, including dealing with a wide range of personalities, plus extra media coverage. Managing people is as much the game as mapping out strategy.

With all that Redmond is about to face, he will be relying on his own past experiences.

"I played for a lot of different guys, and sort of completely different types of managers," Redmond said. "Obviously, Jim Leyland was my first manager in 1998. I learned so much from him."

From Leyland, Redmond realized, to get the most out of your players, you have to put them in positions to succeed.

"He was a big matchup guy, and he got me into situations to be successful," Redmond said. "Had I gone out there and played against the [Greg] Madduxes and the Kerry Woods right out of the chute, I may not be sitting here today.

"He started me in against lefties, soft-throwing lefties, but it allowed me to establish myself and kind of cut my teeth in the big leagues with some confidence, and it just kind of built from there."

In Minnesota, Gardenhire showed the importance of backing his players. If it meant being tossed from the game, so be it.

"Gardy was a tremendous players' manager," Redmond said. "I don't know if there's a guy that I've played for that backed his players more than Gardy did. It's definitely something that I learned from him.

"You've seen him get thrown out of games, backing his players. But he fought for his guys, and that was one of the things I have never forgotten."

In 2003, with the Marlins making a World Series push, McKeon rode his regulars hard. Often the bench players didn't see much action.

"McKeon showed so much faith in his players," Redmond said. "If you were a [main] guy, he ran you out there. It didn't matter if you were 0-for-16, 0-for-17, 0-for-20. If you were his guy, you played.

"Maybe for the bench players at the time we didn't appreciate it, but he got me into a World Series, in Game 2, and he didn't have to do it. I think we were down five or six runs in Game 2, and he gave Pudge a little bit of blow and got me in there."

Redmond played a couple of innings and got an at-bat.

"I'll always be thankful to him for that," Redmond said.

From Boles, Redmond learned that occasionally a manager will stick out his neck against the front office regarding transactions. Sometimes management wants to send a player down to the Minor Leagues, and a manager has to make a case for why he should stay.

"He was a mentor of mine coming up through the Minor Leagues," Redmond said. "He saved me a couple times. There were a couple times where they wanted to send me down, and he battled for me and he fought for me."

When the Marlins begin Spring Training on Feb. 11, Redmond will carry a bit of his past managers' styles with him.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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