Schumaker as a manager 'was only a matter of time'

Colleagues from former teams weigh in on Marlins' pick for new skipper

October 27th, 2022

MIAMI -- Ask anyone about new Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, and the notion of him becoming a skipper was a matter of when, not if.

"There are certain players that you can tell when you're playing with them, they've got that mindset that if they ever decided they want to manage, they could be that guy," said Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who was teammates with Schumaker in St. Louis in 2009. "Every player thinks they can manage when they're playing, because they always do it. Like we all do it. We all go, 'Man, I would never do that. This is what I'd do here.' But the reality of having that sense of climbing the ladder and working after you're done, Skip's done that. He's been on the bench and going through what you have to go through."

Following 11 years in the Majors, which included World Series titles with the Cardinals in 2006 and '11, Schumaker began his post-playing career with the Padres. He served as an assistant to baseball operations and player development ('16-17), then joined the field staff as the first-base coach ('18-19) and associate manager ('20-21).

Former Padres skipper Jayce Tingler didn't know Schumaker before taking over the helm from 2020-21. He entrusted Schumaker with a lot of the responsibilities of an old school bench coach, leaning on him heavily over the two seasons.

Tingler found that Schumaker's foray into the front office helped. He had developed relationships with its members as well as on-field personnel. He was active in the gym, able to communicate with everyone from trainers to players. Schumaker had an ability to tie loose ends and connect people.

"I think coming up from really the Cardinals background, obviously he's been to a couple different places, but I think people in the industry respect, understand just kind of the 'Cardinal Way,' the fundamentals of the game and how you do things, and I think that's pretty deeply kind of in his roots, if you will," said Tingler, who is the bench coach for the Twins. "Being a stickler or just understanding the fundamentals and how to play the game and how to back up bases, and how to run cuts and relays, and the way you run the bases, all those things, I think he's going to be really good at that. That was certainly some of his strengths from my two years with him."

The 42-year-old Schumaker went back to those roots in 2022 as the Cardinals bench coach on first-time manager Oliver Marmol's staff. The same things Tingler said about Schumaker having a pulse on everything going on and a great feel for the clubhouse was reiterated by St. Louis players.

Middle infielder Tommy Edman called Schumaker one of the more knowledgeable guys in the game. Pair that with elite communication skills, and it's no wonder the Cardinals gravitated to Schumaker.

“Because he played for so long, he’s good about knowing what players need at a given moment," Edman said. "He’s super relatable and very approachable, and I definitely knew that I could go up to him and ask him questions about anything. Also, he’s the kind of guy who likes to keep things light. He likes to joke around and have a good time. There are definitely times when in a meeting he would crack a joke, and everybody would be laughing. He’s the kind of guy who always makes things fun.”

Edman and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is likely to be a finalist for the National League MVP Award next month, relied on Schumaker's high baseball IQ. According to Edman, Schumaker scouted specific teams, helped out the players with game plans and watched a ton of video to pick up on things opposing teams were doing.

Schumaker was one of the first guys Goldschmidt, a 12-year veteran with four Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards on his resume, would turn to. Goldschmidt went on to call Schumaker the "total package" with his large breadth of knowledge on hitting, defense, infield, outfield and baserunning.

"I’m happy for him, but I’m extremely sad to see him go," Goldschmidt said. "He was great on our staff, and he related to everyone. I talked to him every day and relied on him a lot. He was great with us, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he was going to become a manager. He was so well respected as a player and a coach, he’s won multiple World Series, he played different positions, and it’s not that long ago that he was still playing. So, I think that’s a great quality for a coach, and I just think he has so many great qualities to be a great manager.”

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak had Schumaker as a player and coach, so the news of him taking the job with the Marlins was bittersweet.

“We knew what we were getting from him [from his playing days in St. Louis], and he delivered," Mozeliak said. "Look, he’s an impressive guy. I was hopeful that this wouldn’t happen this year, but I knew it would happen [eventually].” Cardinals beat reporter John Denton contributed to this story.