(Reuters) - Miami Marlins general manager Dan Jennings is moving from his front office perch to a seat in the dugout and taking over as manager of the National League club, the team announced on Monday in an unorthodox shake-up.
Jennings, who has no managerial experience above the high school level and has never played in the major leagues, takes over a team he helped construct that has struggled to a 16-22 record.
“It is out of the box, I will not deny that,” Jennings told a news conference, while adding he welcomed the challenge.
“I’ve always considered myself, now 31 years in the game, as a baseball man. I am honored to have the privilege to be able to lead this team that I had a hand in putting together.”
Jennings, a long-time baseball scout and executive, takes over from Mike Redmond, who was fired along with bench coach Rob Leary on Sunday.
Marlins advance scout Mike Goff will serve as Jennings’ bench coach, and assistant general Mike Berger takes over as GM.
“We wanted a leader, we wanted a motivator. We wanted someone who knew our players,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.
Expectations were high for the Marlins after a string of trades and signings remodeled a team that had improved by 15 games with a 77-85 record last season.
Jennings said being asked to manager the team came as a surprise.
“At first very flattered,” he said. “Then there was some soul searching on my part. I’ve never played in the big leagues, or coached in the big leagues or managed in the big leagues or even the minor leagues.
“Even my mom, she asked me am I crazy, have you lost your mind?”
Jennings said he grew up around coaching.
“My father was a coach, coached almost 50 years. We had one motto in our house as I was growing up, ‘You can’t win if you’re afraid to lose.’”
Jennings remains optimistic.
“In my heart, this is a playoff team,” he said. “Hopefully their abilities will rise and they do what they’re capable of doing.”
The Marlins hope for a turnaround similar to the one in 2003 that propelled them to the World Series.
That club had an identical 16-22 record when Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg as manager and went on to win the World Series over the Yankees.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by ......