Gardenhire gets 2-year extension

Twins manager never considers going elsewhere

McClatchy News Services

MINNEAPOLIS — With baseball’s free-agent market about to open, the Twins announced Thursday that they had signed two-year deals with manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff.

The timing seemed fitting. Players come and go, but the Twins aren’t ones to let their managers test the market.

Gardenhire, 51, had one year left on his previous deal, so the extension will keep him under contract through at least 2011. Assuming he stays for the duration, that will be two Twins managers in 25 years — two iconic skippers since Tom Kelly replaced Ray Miller in 1986.


"As far as going other places, I don’t even give it a thought," Gardenhire said. "It would be hard to leave. I love it here."

Gardenhire and general manager Bill Smith agreed in principle to this deal last month, during the team’s organizational meetings. But the coaches’ contracts had expired, and Gardenhire waited to sign until his entire staff had received two-year deals.

That means pitching coach Rick Anderson, hitting coach Joe Vavra, bench coach Steve Liddle, third-base coach Scott Ullger, first-base coach Jerry White, bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, trainers Rick McWane and Dave Pruemer, and strength coach Perry Castellano are all under contract through 2010, the first year in the new ballpark.

"That’s where it all starts with me," Gardenhire said. "If anything happens with my staff, then we’re going to have issues here because they’re my eyes, my ears. They’re the workers. You’ve gotta surround yourself with good people, and we’ve got a really, really good group here."

Gardenhire is 622-512 and has won four division titles in seven years as manager, going 6-15 in the postseason. The only managers with more regular-season victories since 2002 are Joe Torre (675), Mike Scioscia (646), Tony La Russa (634) and Bobby Cox (623).

Smith said 2008 was Gardenhire’s best year yet.

"I think our coaching staff, and Gardy specifically, did a fantastic job managing all the changes," Smith said. "After losing (Johan) Santana, (Torii) Hunter and (Carlos) Silva, they came into the season unwilling to settle for anything less than being a contending team."

The Twins finished 88-75, losing 1-0 in a one-game playoff to the White Sox for the AL Central title.


"I was probably as tired as I’ve ever been, just mentally exhausted," Gardenhire said. "We had some really rough road trips at the end. We had a lot of things we were dealing with, with our bullpen having a hard time getting the ball to (Joe) Nathan, and it was a tight race.

"Any time you get that close, you start looking back on how many games you should have won, and that’s been the hard part."

Silver Sluggers

Twins Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau won Silver Slugger Awards as the best hitters at their positions. Both of them won Silver Sluggers in 2006, as well.

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