Ron Gardenhire has never found a use for an agent. Whenever the time has come for the Minnesota Twins to address his contract, he has simply sat down with his boss to get the deal done.
General manager Bill Smith gave Gardenhire a two-year extension through the 2013 season Thursday, a day after he was picked as the American League Manager of the Year.
”Billy, he tells me what he wants to do. We talk a little bit, and that’s pretty much about it,” Gardenhire said on a conference call with local reporters. ”I don’t get into all of that negotiating.”
With six division titles in the nine years since he took over for a franchise long high on loyalty, stability and continuity, Gardenhire’s job continues to be among the most secure in baseball despite a 12-game postseason losing streak dating to 2004.
The Twins went 94-68 this year before being swept again in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Yankees. This is the fifth time Gardenhire’s contract has been extended since he was hired in 2002.
”I think most managers will tell you the same thing: It’s not a bad situation to be in when you’re with an organization that likes to keep you,” Gardenhire said, adding of the Pohlad family ownership group: ”They really take care of you. They do a really good job of giving you an opportunity.”
Gardenhire pointed to the choice of Jon Rauch as the closer —with plenty of input from pitching coach Rick Anderson and others — when Joe Nathan hurt his elbow in spring training as one decision during the past year he was most proud of. First baseman Justin Morneau also suffered a concussion in July and didn’t play the rest of the season.
”We had a new ballpark and a lot of new players, then lost two All-Stars to injury,” Smith said in a statement released by the team. ”Our major league staff did a marvelous job dealing with that adversity without complaint.”
Stress management has been an issue for Gardenhire at times, particularly in 2005 when he had to leave the dugout during a game due to heart palpitations triggered by high anxiety. He’s had a relaxing offseason from the sounds of it, even taking the time to watch old friend Ron Washington and the Texas Rangers in one of their playoff games.
”It was kind of refreshing because normally you’re so irritated because you got knocked out,” Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire shrugged off a question about whether the season was more stressful than before, but he acknowledged the responsibility of running a $100 million team moving into a sparkling new ballpark and striving to go further in the playoffs.
”Expectations were higher and maybe that puts more pressure on you. I don’t know. I don’t feel like it did,” he said.
The 53-year-old Gardenhire, whose career winning percentage is .550 with a record of 803-656, was happy to have his entire coaching staff under contract through 2012 as well.
Anderson, bench coach Steve Liddle, bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Scott Ullger, hitting coach Joe Vavra, first base coach Jerry White, head athletic trainer Rick McWane, assistant athletic trainer Dave Pruemer and strength and conditioning coordinator Perry Castellano were all given two-year deals.