Posted at 10:14 AM on September 7, 2005
by David Zingler
Other than the fact that they play the same position for the same team, Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond have little in common. Mauer for instance, with his 90210 sideburns, possesses the teeny bop, heartthrob looks that make schoolgirls swoon. Redmond meanwhile, is probably better served leaving his catchers mask on.
“Me being 34-years-old now, I am what, 13 years older than (Mauer) is?” Redmond asked (actually only 12). “That’s a lot older! It’s been fun for me, he’s seeing things for the first time and I can talk to him and tell him some of the things that I have seen and ways to handle certain situations. We’ve had a lot of great conversations, and I’ve learned as much from him as hopefully he’s learned from me. I think he’s energized me.”
Also unlike Mauer, Redmond’s path to the big leagues had its’ share of detours. Undrafted out Gonzaga University, the catcher signed a free agent contract with the expansion Florida Marlins in August of 1992. After spending the majority of the next six seasons at various levels of their farm system, the then 27-year-old made his major league debut in 1998.
A career reserve, Redmond’s tenure in Florida was highlighted by a 2003 campaign in which he backed up Ivan Rodriguez and picked up a World Series ring. Although it would be unfair to compare Rodriguez and Mauer at this point, Redmond has gained a special appreciation for his young teammate.
“Obviously Pudge (Rodriguez) was farther along in his career than Joe, who is just getting started,” the Seattle native explained. “I really have a lot of respect for Joe and what he’s done this year. He’s really having a great year, he’s improved as the seasons gone on and done a great job with our pitching staff. He’s the No. 3 hitter in our line-up, so obviously he’s a huge part of our offense. I’ve enjoyed playing with him and talking to him, he’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time, hopefully I will be able to back him up as many years as I can.”
A free agent for the first time last winter, Redmond said the Twins were a logical choice for him, “I knew that this was a good team with a great pitching staff,” he commented. “I wanted the opportunity to win…that was the number one thing for me. I had heard a lot of good things about the Twins organization, all of which have been true. I enjoy our coaching staff and learned a lot from our players…not a day goes by that I’ve ever regretted the decision I made to come here.”
Armed with a two-year contract (the first multi-year deal of his career), the veteran backstop has performed well when called upon, hitting .300 with 23 RBI in 140 at bats. A .284 career hitter entering this season, Redmond’s offense wasn’t in question, nor was his highly regarded ability to work with a pitching staff.
“I am always talking to (the pitchers), trying to learn,” the eight-year veteran pointed out. “I am always watching, it’s part of my job as a catcher whether I am playing or not…my strength (is) working with pitchers and calling a game. That’s the part of the game I love, going out there and helping those guys win.”
Redmond believes any catcher can learn to call a game, but the ability to connect with the pitchers is what makes him unique, “I think you can learn (how to call a good game), but I don’t think you can learn how to have a good rapport,” the former Marlin said. “I’ve always cared a lot about the pitchers and wanted them to do well, even more so than myself.”