I've always been impressed by Ron Gardenhire's ability to remain calm and civil and patient after Twins' games, even when things have gone horribly wrong on the field. He's very good at remaining under control. But every so often, his temper bubbles to the surface as he talks, until he wisely cuts off interviews before blowing up.
Tonight was one of those nights, and it was instructive what made him that way. I'm sure being swept by the Royals was painful, and watching his hitters go 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position -- twice stranding the bases loaded -- made him upset.
But that was baseball. Those things happen. After a decade of managing, those things don't trigger his temper.
Not playing his way, however? Look out.
So it was tonight, as the manager calmly expressed his disappointment in the outcome, and complimented the pitching job done by Royals starter Wade Davis, and his own starter, Liam Hendriks. When the discussion turned to Aaron Hicks, however -- and the question was about his problems at the plate, not the popup he hit that was dropped by Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain -- you could practically hear the rumbling growing in Gardenhire's voice.
"I can't live with that," the manager said about Hicks' jog to second base, and he went on at length about the play, growing angry as he spoke. "We always run," Gardenhire said before cutting off the interview, his point well made.
I'm not certain whether the manager thought Hicks could have reached third base on the play -- the ball dropped just 40 feet or so behind second base, and didn't bounce far from Cain -- but that was clearly not Gardenhire's point. Now it will be interesting to see how the incident affects Hicks' playing time. Gardenhire gave him Tuesday's game off, but the rookie's approach didn't appear altered by the break on Wednesday. He's struck out 16 times in eight games, and he hasn't walked since the second game of the season -- a complete reversal of the spring, when he walked six times and put together a .406 on-base percentage.
Gardenhire said "We'll keep running him out there," but it remains to be seen whether Darin Mastroianni gets a few more starts on the Twins' upcoming homestand.