Detroit Tigers’ Ron Gardenhire on contract talks: ‘I don’t do that during the year’

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire hasn’t spoken with his boss about a contract extension.

Halfway through a 60-game schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he has a lot to focus on. The trade deadline is coming Monday, and certain members of the Tigers could be on the move. He is handling two top pitching prospects in Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal. 

And he wants to win games.

But he hasn’t spoken to general manager Al Avila about his future.

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“I don’t do that during the year anyway, so it’s not something I’m worried about at all,” Gardenhire, 62, said Saturday. “I have a contract for three years, and there you have it. I’ve not even come close to talk about that, so I don’t really want to until the season’s over with.”

He signed a three-year contract in October 2017 to take over as the Tigers’ manager after the organization chose not to extend Brad Ausmus’ four-year contract. Since Gardenhire’s tenure in Detroit began, he has produced a 124-228 record (.352) in two-plus seasons.

The poor overall, however, has more to do with the Tigers’ rebuild than Gardenhire’s managerial abilities. He managed 13 years for the Minnesota Twins, compiling a winning record (1,068-1,039). Still, his last four years there — all 90-plus loss seasons — were the worst in the organization’s history, and he was fired in September 2014. 

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It remains to be seen if the Tigers plan to give him a contract extension. But with the ongoing coronavirus and uncertainties regarding the 2021 season, would Gardenhire — a high-risk individual from a health standpoint — even want to return?

“I’m just trying to get through this thing, tell you the truth,” he said. “It’s really something that I’m not too awfully worried about either way. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. And I’ll make that decision as we go along here toward the end of this thing.”

[ How the Tigers have avoided COVID-19 outbreak in clubhouse ]

Burrows joins

The Tigers called up outfielder Travis Demeritte from the alternate training site in Toledo for Friday’s scheduled doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, only to send him back a few hours later because of the rain out. With another doubleheader scheduled for Saturday, it seemed like Demeritte would return.

Except the organization picked right-handed reliever Beau Burrows as the 29th player on the 28-man roster.

“Demeritte probably would just be a pinch-runner off the bench,” Gardenhire said. “I wouldn’t start him over the guys that we have here. I mean, he would be here just for that bench role and all that stuff. Having an extra pitcher, you never know what’s going to happen.

“I mean, we’re facing a team over there with a lot of really good hitters. If our starters get knocked out quick or something like that, then you’ve got to ad-lib with pitching. We just want to make sure we got that area protected.”

[ How Burrows used tech to get back on track: ‘I had all the sensors’ ]

Burrows made his MLB debut earlier this season and made four appearances before his demotion. He has given up three runs on three hits and one walk in 5⅓ innings. He has two strikeouts.

Anderson returns

Pitching coach Rick Anderson returned to the Tigers on Saturday after spending the week in Seattle for a family matter, reported by radio broadcast Jim Price as the death of his mother. After Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, Anderson returned to his hometown.

Gardenhire announced Tuesday he would miss the week.

Jeff Pico returned to his normal position as the bullpen coach and Juan Nieves, who was in the bullpen for Pico in Anderson’s absence, went back to Toledo.

For subscribers: Tigers rebuild relies on how well Anderson coaches their top prospects

Anderson will see his two rookies, left-hander Tarik Skubal and righty Casey Mize, pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in American League Central clashes with the Twins.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content. 

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