Citing health, Tigers manager Gardy retires

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire stepped down on Saturday, announcing his retirement after three seasons in Detroit and 16 years managing in the Major Leagues.
The decision came out of a Saturday afternoon meeting with general manager Al Avila at Comerica Park, during which Gardenhire discussed his recent health

DETROIT — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire stepped down on Saturday, announcing his retirement after three seasons in Detroit and 16 years managing in the Major Leagues.

The decision came out of a Saturday afternoon meeting with general manager Al Avila at Comerica Park, during which Gardenhire discussed his recent health issues.

“This afternoon when I got here to the office, I come down and go into Gardy’s office to talk baseball stuff,” Avila said in a Zoom conference. “And at that point we started talking, and he mentioned to me he was going to retire and he wasn’t feeling well from a health perspective.”

Gardenhire, 62, is a cancer survivor. He missed two games in Minnesota earlier this month with what was described as a stomach virus. He said he initially planned to retire at season’s end, but he decided to retire immediately after talking with Avila about his issues, including shakes in his hands from the stress of the job.

“The way I’ve been feeling since I had that bout of food poisoning in Minnesota and the stomach problems and the stress involved with this job, I told Al I’ll step down right now,” Gardenhire said.

Bench coach Lloyd McClendon will manage the Tigers through the rest of the season. The remainder of the coaching staff will stay on through the end of the season.

The Tigers hired Gardenhire after the 2017 campaign to help guide the team through a rebuilding process, having seen his success over 13 seasons managing the American League Central rival Twins. He finished his time in Minnesota with a record of 1,068-1,039, posting the second-most wins in franchise history and becoming one of 25 managers in baseball history to win 1,000-or-more games with a single team.

The Tigers went 132-241 under his charge, but they showed noted improved this season after a league-worst 47-114 record last year. Detroit vaulted into playoff contention in an expanded AL bracket earlier this month, despite a nine-game losing streak early this season. The Tigers have since fallen back, but they have begun the influx of prospects that have come through their farm system. Ten players have made their Major League debut this season under Gardenhire, including top pitching prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal.

“Wearing this uniform has been really special. The history of this uniform and this team here is second to none,” Gardenhire said. “Getting a chance to manage the Detroit Tigers has been nothing but special. I knew going in that this was going to be a rebuild, and there was going to be some tough times. But through it all, all three years, the teams that we had here — we didn’t have all the talent that other teams had — but we played, and we really got after it.

“They played hard. They gave everything they had. Sure, the outcomes weren’t great, but through it all, we had a great clubhouse every year I was here. And that’s important. We did the best we could.”

Gardenhire was in the final season of his original three-year contract. He said last month that he and Avila would discuss his status at season’s end. His health issues, however, became a growing concern. He finishes his managerial career with 1,200 wins, which ranks 46th in MLB history.

“I just know how I’ve been feeling lately, and I expressed that to Al and elected to just go ahead and step down,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m running out on anybody, but I know I have to take care of myself here. The way I’ve been feeling lately, that’s not right.”

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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