Detroit – Potentially, this is the final month of Ron Gardenhire’s tenure as Tigers’ manager. His three-year contract is up at the end of this season. Not only has the pandemic cheated him out of 102 games, it’s also made this one of the most challenging seasons of his 40 years in professional baseball.
So, Saturday seemed as good a time as any to ask him about his future. Has he had any discussions with general manager Al Avila about his future?
“No,” he said. “I don’t typically do that during the year. It’s not something I’m worried about at all, to tell you the truth. I have a contract for three years. I’ve not ever come close to talking about that. I don’t really want to, not until the season is over.”
Avila has also not broached the subject. He and Gardenhire have had an easy, comfortable working relationship over these three years and one thing they both agree on is, no contract talk until the season ends.
Gardenhire took the job knowing the Tigers were going into a full rebuild and it was going to be his job to nurture young players and placate veterans on short contracts through the process. It seems almost cruel to ask him to bow out now, just as things are turning around and those prospects he helped bring into the system are getting to the big leagues.
On the other hand, Gardenhire is 62 and the rigors of this season have worn on him, visibly. Whether they have tempered his desire to manage beyond this contract, he’s not saying right now.
“I’m just trying to get through this thing,” he said. “It’s not something I am too awfully worried about either way. I’ve been doing this a long, long time. I’ll make the decision as we go along, toward the end of this thing.”
Like father, like son
Gardenhire’s son Toby was supposed to be managing the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester this season. Instead, he is running the team’s taxi squad in St. Paul.
“He’s doing good,” Ron Gardenhire said. “He says he does a lot of driving back and forth to Target Field, like a taxi service. But the camp is going as good as it can go. He enjoys it. He still gets to do baseball, which is important. There are a lot of people who aren’t.”
Toby is having the same issues the Tigers’ staff is having with their taxi squad – thin rosters and the Groundhog’s Day tedium of simulated games and live batting practice.
“You just have to try and make it a little different each day,” Gardenhire said. “It’s a challenge at times to stay focused. But he’s just glad to have a job and be working every day.”
Around the horn
…The Tigers promoted right-handed pitcher Beau Burrows from Toledo to be the 29th man for the doubleheader Saturday. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Gardenhire said. “We are facing a team with a lot of good hitters. If our starters get knocked out early, then you really have to ad-lib with your pitching. We needed to make sure we were protected in that area.”
…Gardenhire was asked what the biggest challenge was facing the Twins’ lineup: “One through nine,” he said.
… The Tigers-Twins game that was postponed Friday night will be made up as part of a straight seven-inning doubleheader on Friday, Sept. 4 at Target Field, starting at 2:10 p.m. (ET). Minnesota will be the home team for the first game and the Tigers will be the home team for the second game.
Twins at Tigers
TV/Radio: FSD, 97.1
RHP Kenta Maeda (4-0, 2.21), Twins: How dominant has he been thus far? Here are opponent batting averages against his top three pitches: slider, .175; change-up, .085; four-seam fastball, .115. His hard-hit rate is among the lowest in baseball – 23.6 percent.
RHP Casey Mize (0-1, 7.04), Tigers: In both his starts, Mize has had trouble finding a feel for his cutter. It’s a pitch needs to complement and keep hitters honest with his splitter. The Cubs were extremely patient against him, forcing him to throw 76 pitches in just 3.1 innings.