Mike Redmond was walking out of Marlins Stadium with his family in December, having just been introduced at a news conference as the Miami Marlins' new manager, and his 12-year-old son, Ryan, was clearly impressed.

"He said, 'Man, Dad, this is a big stadium. This is pretty cool,' " Redmond recounted on Friday. " 'This is kind of a big deal.' "

Yeah, it kind of is, especially for a guy who never saw himself as one. Redmond was a career backup catcher, a guy who wasn't even chosen in one of the 50 rounds of the baseball draft when he graduated from Gonzaga in 1992, and considered himself lucky to win a job -- and then hold on to it for 13 years -- in the big leagues.

But Redmond was always more valuable than just a guy to warm up pitchers and give Joe Mauer an occasional day off. In many ways, Redmond was the heart of the Twins' clubhouse during his five seasons in Minnesota, the guy who kept things light, who made the daily grind funny -- but who always kept his teammates focused on winning.

"You need characters in your clubhouse. ... They can't all be headbangers in there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Red Dog's a blast. He was fun to have as a player. ... [But] he can be real serious when he wants to. We've seen both sides of him. When he was, as they say, getting on a pitcher's butt, he was really serious about the way he wanted things done."

Still is, and Redmond -- who faced his former team for the first time Friday -- said he learned much of that from Gardenhire.

"He's loyal to guys. He backed his players up. He got thrown out of a lot of games to back his players up," Redmond said. "Players always knew, when you're out there competing, grinding, that he had their backs. That's huge in this game, and that's one thing I learned from him."