The Minnesota Twins have brought former manager Ron Gardenhire back as a special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan. Some fans will deplore this move, seeing it as nepotism; a “country club” mentality. Others will marvel at how a GM can fire a manager and hire him back in a lower position, while his replacement is still in the organization.
“There was never any problem with he and I,” said Ryan of Gardenhire. “As you guys all know, we had the press conference together, so I don’t take it as, All right, just because you let a guy go, that doesn’t mean that you can’t regroup. That happens a lot.”
Gardenhire joins Tom Kelly, who won two World Series with the Twins, as another former manager joining the Twins in a different capacity. According to Ryan, Gardenhire will pick up some of Kelly’s slack, as he’s not able to rove as much as he used to. Kelly is 65.
Gardenhire joins Tom Kelly, who won two World Series with the Twins, as another former manager joining the Twins in a different capacity
“This is just another piece to development, and some of the teachings and so forth,” said Ryan. “Gardy’s got a lot of ability and teaching, and he’s done all that. Obviously he spend a lot of time in the minor leagues as a manager, and that was back in the days when we didn’t have coaches, so he did about everything.
“It was a long time ago, but nonetheless there were days when there was a manager and and pitching coach and that was it. That’s what he did.
“He was a manager down in Kenosha, and he was a manager down in Orlando — it was he and the pitching coach and a trainer. So he’s taught hitting. He’s taught baserunning. All that stuff comes with the youth. So he’s got a lot of value to us in a lot of ways.”
He will report directly to Ryan — the GM who fired him, mind you — as both an evaluator and instructor. Some days he’ll be in uniform and in the dugout; other days he’ll be behind the plate.
“I think you have to be able to evaluate, and it coincides with the instruction,” said Ryan. “He’s not a cookie-cutter guy, and if you get into that mode, that’s dangerous, because players aren’t cookie-cutter people. You have to be adjustable, and you have to know how to touch the right button with players.”
He will report directly to Ryan — the GM who fired him, mind you
He has signed a one-year, pro-rated deal that ends Dec. 31, and he is allowed to search for management positions while under contract. “If somebody comes calling, I’m gonna give permission. There’s no question about that,” said Ryan. “This is a two-way street here, he’s gonna help us, but I think to some extent this might help him.”
The two sides have been in discussion about this for a while. Gardenhire also has kept up with the team and is familiar with the personnel and internal processes.
“I’ve been talking to him,” said Ryan. “He was in Ft. Myers pretty much the whole time I was in Spring Training, so I had been conversing with him over the course of quite a while, and we’ve talked after he didn’t get the San Diego job. We had conversations.”
“The history and tradition and all that, that’s fine,” he added. “But he also knows basically the philosophy that we haven’t strayed too far. You see in Spring Training, Paul does a lot of the same things that Gardy had done, and Gardy did a lot of the same things that Tom did.