“It’s been a little hectic, a lot of emotions, but we finally made it home,” the former Tigers manager told the Word on Woodward show Thursday afternoon.
Now, instead of planning team workouts for Spring Training, he’s planning on riding his Harley up from his winter home in Fort Myers, Fla., to Lakeland to make a visit to Tigers camp.
“[General manager Al Avila] knows I’ll get on my Harley, Carol too,” he said. “We’ll go to Lakeland to mess with him.”
• Citing health, Tigers manager Gardy retires
Gardenhire’s interview comes a little less than a week after his decision to retire as Tigers manager out of health concerns. Gardenhire said he had planned to tell Avila before Detroit’s season-ending road trip, but that not even his wife knew he wanted to retire right away rather than at season’s end.
“Al was shocked to tell you the truth,” Gardenhire said, “because he just got into my office. We had a very good conversation. I think I shocked him. He was kind of relieved, because he was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. But then as we talked, I told him how I was feeling at that moment, how I was beat up, hands were shaking from tension and all those things. It finally got to the point where I told Al I would like to do this right now with everything we’re going through with the COVID situation.
“Even Carol was shocked, because when I went to the ballpark, I had no intention of retiring at that moment. But I knew it was the right thing as soon as I’d done it.”
• Gardy shaped careers, lives over 16 seasons
It was not an indictment of the job, or the way the organization had treated him.
“It’s a pleasure wearing the Olde English D, all the people you get to meet, the boss, the owner. Mr. [Christopher] Ilitch was fantastic to us. The only thing we missed this year was the fans.”
To the fans, Gardenhire said, better times are in store as the prospects become Major Leaguers.
“I’m just here to say this: From what I’ve seen and what I’ve been a part of — this organization has always been great, but I think you’re going to see greater ahead. It’s fun stuff. There’s just so much to look forward to.”
As for Gardenhire’s immediate retirement plans, he said they aren’t that grand or inspiring.
“Oh yeah, I get to follow [Carol] around in the grocery stores and shopping,” he joked. “Wow, I’m fired up about that.”
Save me for St. Louis?
With the Tigers potentially playing one or two games against the Cardinals on Monday if the previously postponed games have a bearing on whether the Cards make the playoffs or win the National League Central, interim manger Lloyd McClendon has to watch his bullpen this weekend.
McClendon said they should have a good idea by Saturday night whether those games will be played.
“We would be careful with our bullpen,” McClendon said, “because we want to go into those two games at full strength and with a good chance to win ballgames. We owe it to the opponents that are behind St. Louis to give our best effort.”
• McClendon praised Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, who on Thursday announced his plan to retire at season’s end.
“Remarkable player,” he said. “Here’s a young man that came to the big leagues under a lot of pressure. He [was labeled] the next George Brett, which put an extreme amount on pressure on him, but he was able to move to the outfield and become an All-Star, several Gold Gloves, just a phenomenal player.”
• With the Tigers eliminated from postseason contention, don’t be surprised to see more opportunities for rookies like Derek Hill.
“Obviously we need to take a look at some guys, and this is an opportunity to do it,” McClendon said. “Even with that in mind, our goal is to win every ballgame. We’ll construct lineups with that goal in mind.”
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.