The Twins announced on Monday that they’ve hired Ron Gardenhire, who managed the club from 2002-14, as a special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan. According to the team’s press release, Gardenhire will serve as a roving instructor and evaluator throughout the club’s minor league affiliates.
Gardenhire, 58, spent 13 seasons as the Twins’ manager, accumulating a 1068-1039 record in that time and also won six division championships. From 2002-10, the Twins were a perennially competitive club in the AL Central, but Minnesota fell off the map beginning in 2011, and following the club’s fourth straight losing campaign, it announced that Gardenhire would be relieved of his duties. (Hall of Famer and Minnesota native Paul Molitor was eventually hired as his replacement.) Even at the time of his firing, though, it was clear that Gardenhire was still in good standing with the club. He sat alongside Ryan at the press conference to announce his dismissal, with Ryan telling the Twin Cities media that he likened Gardenhire to a brother.
Gardenhire has been a managerial candidate for other clubs since being fired in Minnesota, most notably being one of the reported finalists for the Padres job this offseason alongside Pirates coach Rick Sofield and D-backs third base coach Andy Green, who eventually won the job and is now in his first season with the Friars. Gardenhire is widely respected among baseball executives and his former players. While his in-game tactics were more traditional in nature, he drew strong praise for his communications skills and attention to fundamentals, and he was exceptionally popular in the Twins’ clubhouse over the duration of his dugout tenure.