Edwin Rodriguez resigned as Florida’s manager Sunday. The job has been filled by the cigar-smoking Jack McKeon, who’s 80. What I’m wondering: How long before some team with a vacancy makes a run at a cigar aficionado who’s a spry 70?
“Nobody’s going to hire me,” Bobby Cox said Monday, speaking via iPhone. “I’m too young. I’ve got to earn my spurs first.”
About McKeon, Cox said: “Jack’s full of life and energy. Every time he’s come back — in Cincinnati and with Florida — he’s won.”
Let the record reflect that Robert Joseph Cox did some winning himself — 15 division titles, 16 playoff appearances, five National League pennants, one World Series title. He retired last fall, but he remains one of the most respected figures the game has known. And so I wondered: Has any club issued a feeler as to Cox’s interest in managing again?
“No, no, no, no,” he said. “I’m too busy. They can’t catch up with me.”
Busy traveling, mostly. He and his wife Pam took the Mediterranean cruise the Braves gave them on Bobby Cox Day last October — started in Barcelona, ended in Rome, 15 days in all. “That was the first [cruise] we’ve ever done,” Cox said. “It was pretty special. Probably spoiled us.”
Since then Cox has been shuttling throughout the South, swinging by Alabama and Mississippi, even stopping off at a different Rome for a minor-league baseball game. He spent Father’s Day at Turner Field, watching as the Braves beat the Rangers. (He remains a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren, and Cox is scheduled to be inducted into the Braves’ Hall of Fame on Aug. 12.)
“I’ve probably been to five games [at Turner Field],” Cox said. “I’ll go down and talk to the staff. I get my baseball fix that way.”
His assessment of Fredi Gonzalez, once Cox’s third-base coach and now his successor as manager? “Great. Outstanding. He’s handled everything great. He gets an A-plus.”
Then: “I’m serious. It’s been tough. The schedule hasn’t been easy, even in spring training. He gets high marks from me.”
When Cox doesn’t venture down to the ballpark, does he watch games? “Every pitch, if I can. I’ve got the popcorn, the chair — I’m ready to go.”
That said, watching isn’t exactly relaxing. “It’s tough watching on TV. Sometimes I’ve got to get up and walk around.”
His appraisal of the first Braves’ team since 1985 that he hasn’t had a direct hand in molding: “We’ve got to get our [injured] guys back.”
He and Pam spent a month hunkered down at their Adairsville farm. “Barnsley Gardens [a resort] is right next door. You’d work a little bit in the morning, then go play nine.”
Mr. and Mrs. Cox have been known to shoot hoops — Pam played basketball in high school — at the goal out back at the farm. Does she also play golf? “I bought her a set of clubs,” Cox said. “She’s practiced once. I’m hoping she gets the bug.”
Back to baseball. If a big-league team were to call over the winter and ask if he’s getting the bug to manage again, what would Cox say?
“I think I’m retired forever. I’m getting used to this stuff now. They say you stay really busy the first year, and then you get to do what you want to do.”
Could he see himself wearing a uniform again? “I don’t think so,” Cox said.
Then: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
By Mark Bradley