JUPITER, Fla. — The sun had risen over the back fields of the Cardinals’ spring training complex, casting a golden glow over two empty baseball diamonds. The grass was wet with morning dew and the air was calm. There were no sounds of baseballs snapping mitts, no melodies of a batting practice soundtrack in the distance, or the distinct crackle of cleats on cement, at least not yet.
But there was Cardinals manager Oli Marmol, dressed in a hoodie and basketball shorts, walking along the complex. His calm demeanor was like the setting, though there was no doubt things were a lot more manic behind the scenes just days into his major league managerial tenure: Spring training was heating up in a whirlwind after a 99-day sick leave. His receiver and club manager at Yadier Molina had not yet appeared at camp. And two of its most prominent pitchers had already been arrested and told they wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day.
Despite this, Marmol exudes a sense of confidence that doesn’t sound like pretentiousness at all, but rather a constant assurance.
“It helps that I was here,” Marmol said, stopping at the gated entrance to the fields. “If I entered a new organization, I think it would have been difficult. Some managers taking a job elsewhere for the first time and just talking to the players, it makes things difficult, or just more difficult. But I had relations with our group of veterans and with our young people.
“They know who I am, they know what I stand for.”
(Photo by Oli Marmol: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)