Former River Bats Manager now with the Miami Marlins
Andy Rennecke, email@example.com
Pat Shine has known Mike Redmond since the two were playing baseball in high school while attending Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash.
Shine was always close with the Redmond family and eventually played college baseball with Redmond and his brother, Pat, at Gonzaga University.
Shine had always been interested in getting into professional baseball after assistant college coaching stops at UCLA and California-Irvine. He was the manager of the St. Cloud River Bats in 1999 after being an assistant coach in 1998.
He got an interesting call from his old friend Redmond in early March. With Major League Baseball implementing instant-replay for the first time, each organization was allowed to add a seventh coach.
The coach could be used in a variety of roles, including being in the instant-replay video room to advise whether the manager should challenge a play.
That's the job that Redmond was offering Shine.
"I enjoyed coaching every single night when I was in the collegiate summer leagues," Shine said. "I had interviewed for some minor-league jobs and nothing came through with that. Mike called me two weeks into spring training with this video position opening up. Most of the other seventh coaches have become second hitting instructors.
"The Marlins wanted to have a replay guy with some coaching responsibilities. They wanted a guy with a coaching background and luckily I had that on my resume."
Shine left his family in California to move to Florida. He sat down with his wife and daughter to talk about the move and they approved.
"My family supported this. They knew I wanted to get some experience in the big leagues. After that talk, I've been in Florida ever since," Shine said.
The replay room
Shine works with Marlins video coaching coordinator Cullen McRae in the replay room. He suits up in uniform every day, even though some of the Marlins' players give him grief about it.
He helps hitters in the cages with anything they need, including mostly throwing batting practice. After the pre-game routine is over, he settles into the replay room with McRae.
"Cullen's been here 18 years and has a lot of experience," Shine said. "He's in charge of the video system and I'm in charge of the replay. I'm sitting at a desk with two big monitors and 14 different angles of the game. If something happens, I'm on the phone to the bench coach and telling them to challenge or not to challenge."
Shine, 42, likes the competitive nature of being in the replay room. While he's not in the dugout with the rest of the team, he still has an impact on the game.
"It's been neat being around the players and the coaching staff here," Shine said. "The whole experience has been awesome –– unbelievable, really. I'm a competitive person and this definitely satisfies that. I have a role on the team and I like it. I'm learning as I go."
Shine and McRae are in a different room from the opponent's replay officials and the umpires. Every room has the same system and monitors. Each replay team is looking at the same video feeds that a group of umpires are looking at in New York.
"When a possible challenge comes up they end up making the final call in New York," Shine said. "They have a lot on their plate with evaluating and making the final call.
"This is definitely a work in progress. It's the first year of it. I think we're making adjustments to the system as we go. It's going to be beneficial.
"The right calls need to be made. There's a place for this in the game, but there are some things that need to be worked out to make it better."
Shine knows it comes down to him as to whether Redmond should challenge a call or not. He tries to be as quick as possible so Redmond can challenge a play without hesitation. Shine doesn't want to have to wait longer than 10 seconds before he tells the bench what to do.
"I've already had a couple of tough calls," Shine said. "You have to be quick. You look at different angles and make your best decision. I don't want to put Mike in a bad position to stay on the field too long or going out there if he doesn't have to. For the most part, it's fairly easy."
St. Cloud connection
Redmond told MLB.com that he likes having Shine on the team.
"He's another set of eyes," Redmond said. "He's like a staff assistant. It gives us two guys to work the system."
Former St. Cloud River Bat Casey McGehee is a third and first baseman for the Marlins. He has a lot in common with Shine because of their connection to the Northwoods League. McGehee played for the Bats in 2001.
McGehee said the team enjoys having Shine in the replay room because he has their backs.
"I only missed him by two years in St. Cloud. It's definitely a small world," McGehee said. "Pat's a good man. He's been a good addition to our staff. He's locked in back there. He's full of focus and is really intense. We knew we needed that type of person to help us. He's already come up big a couple of times in games where we won replays."
McGehee and Shine both know that replay isn't popular among fans. The main complaint is slowing up the pace of the game. McGehee views it as a "necessary evil."
"I like the game to be called right," he said. "It wasn't wrong the way it was done before, but with technology being the way it is now, you have to appease the masses. I think it's something that had to be done. There will be some tweaks made to it.
"I do kind of miss managers going out there and arguing a call. That part of baseball is going away. We'll never have another Lou Pinella or Earl Weaver."
Shine recalled his two summers in St. Cloud fondly. He thinks the Northwoods League is a great training ground for any player or coach who has aspirations of making it to the majors.
The 1998 River Bats won the league title and the 1999 squad lost in the championship round to Rochester.
"Those two summers were the best baseball experiences of my life," Shine said. "I had a lot of good times coaching college baseball, but I learned so much as a manager. It got my feet wet and helped me down the road. We had two really good years.
"The experience of playing every night in St. Cloud did more for my coaching career than any experience I've had so far."