Ron Gardenhire doesn’t know yet what Red Sox manager John Farrell might ask him during Tuesday’s All-Star Game, or if he’ll seek his advice at all. But he already knows what his answer will be.
“I’ll tell him, ‘Go for it,’ ” Gardenhire said. Tuesday’s game marks the third time that Gardenhire has been chosen to assist the AL manager, following stints with the Angels’ Mike Scioscia in 2003 and Detroit’s Jim Leyland in 2007. But this one will be a little different. This one is in his own back yard.
“It’s going to be special. It means a lot to Minnesota and to Twins fans to have it in Target Field, this beautiful ballpark, and I’m glad I get to be a part of it,” the Twins manager said. “And it’s a chance for people coming here to see why we love [Minnesota] so much. It’s a beautiful area. Everywhere you turn, there’s a lake. The parks and recreation is as good as anywhere I’ve ever been in my life.”
Now that the game is here Gardenhire expects to sit back and soak it all in. He’ll leave the managing to Farrell. “Whatever John needs me to do. I’ll be in the dugout, maybe smoking a cigar,” Gardenhire joked. “[Managers] ask, ‘Do you think this guy can get a lefty out?’ Well, he’s an All-Star, so sure. I’ll give him a lot of, ‘Sure.’ ”
Chill over show
In addition to a difficult decision about his starting pitcher, NL Manager Mike Matheny had to make a choice about which of his center fielders would have to move over. Matheny finally decided that Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, a former Twin, would make room for Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.
“We’re just going off experience,” Matheny said. “We’re talking about an MVP player” in McCutchen.
McCutchen, the NL’s Most Valuable Player a year ago, said he empathized with Matheny, because he’s a Gomez fan, too.
“He’s a showman. Man, he’s a showstopper,” McCutchen said. “He definitely has a little more, I don’t know — he’s a little more animated. He’s the type of player who gets really worked up. I’m more of a smooth, relaxed, chill player.”
Oliva a mentor
Tuesday’s All-Star Game is full of diversity firsts. It’s the first game to feature an all-Venezuelan battery, in Seattle’s Felix Hernandez pitching to Royals catcher Salvador Perez. A record five players from the Dominican Republic — Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and outfielder Gomez — will be starting.
And the game will also include five Cubans, the most in 40 years, in White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and shortstop Alexi Ramirez, A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
That group is spending time with their elder statesman — retired Twins star Tony Oliva. “We all know Tony and his story, his success in the big leagues. He’s one of those people that, if it wasn’t for him, as Cubans we wouldn’t be here,” Abreu said. “When I first came to Minneapolis, I was able to meet with him and talk … and he told me some things that helped me as a ballplayer.”
Cardinals setup man Pat Neshek won’t be the only member of his family in the bullpen during the All-Star Game. His brother, Paul, is assigned to the bullpen as part of the Target Field grounds crew, too.
“He said he’s doing the mounds, and he’s going to make ours a little better,” Neshek joked. “I don’t know how much he could really mess that up.”