Gardenhire waits until offseason to unwind from managing

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2013 - 12:31 AM

The Twins manager tries not to worry about his team when he leaves the ballpark, but he often can’t sleep well.

Ron Gardenhire is worried about Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who recently suffered a stroke, but said stress comes with being a manager.

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– Ron Gardenhire, the second longest-tenured manager in the majors, knows that baseball season is stress season.

He knows there will be moments when he gets wound up, boiling mad and frustrated. He knows he will have to deal with things he has no way of preparing for. There will be sleepless nights, especially when his team is losing.

He said there’s no way to prepare for the vicissitudes of the season. Like a storm, you just ride it out and hope there’s as little cleanup as possible.

“I try not to take it home,” Gardenhire said, “but I don’t sleep well at night, and my wife [Carol] understands that. We just live with it.”

Gardenhire spoke about managing — and managing stress — on Thursday, one day after it was learned that Mariners manager Eric Wedge will need about 10 more days of recovery after suffering a mild stroke Monday before a game at Safeco Field. Wedge was taken to a local hospital when he began to feel lightheaded before the game.

Bench coach Robby Thompson will fill in for Wedge. Gardenhire on Thursday sent Wedge a text message to let him know he was being thought of.

“It’s kind of a, as they say, a band of brothers here,” said Gardenhire, 55, the Twins manager since 2002. “So we all think about each other when this stuff happens. Very concerned about him. Hope he’s doing OK.”

Thompson spoke with Wedge on Thursday.

““He’s doing real well. He sounded great,” Thompson said. “He’d just gotten back from one of his therapy things and said it went very well. Obviously, those kind of things are going to continue. It’s part of the process of him getting better and moving forward with it. But he sounded really good.”

Gardenhire has missed games in the past when he has been ill and relates to the occupational challenges. He knows there are more stressful jobs than managing but, like everything else, it’s important to pay attention to his health. Gardenhire has been exercising with his coaching staff before games on this road trip.

Early in his managerial career, Gardenhire had a hot tub in his home in Little Canada that he would retreat to after home games. It used to be a staple of his postgame news conferences when he would look right into a camera and say, “Hot tub, honey,” as a signal to Carol to get it warmed up and ready for postgame. That’s how he would unwind.

That hot tub is gone. The Gardenhires have sold that house.

So is there something in particular he does now to battle stress? “Drink more beer,” he joked before saying there’s little he can do.

The past two years have been particularly hard on Gardenhire because his teams have lost a combined 195 games. The manager would remark before some of those games about how little sleep he was getting during particularly tough stretches.

“You try to help the guys do the best you can, but you don’t want to make yourself sick doing this,” Gardenhire said. “We all know that there’s something that happens every once in a while because it can wear you out.

“You don’t sleep well at night, that is just part of the job. That’s why you take a break when you can.

“The All-Star break was huge,” Gardenhire said. “Went through a real tough time and that was huge for our team and myself. You like to get away from it and clear your mind, but you really never do. Win, lose or draw, you are always thinking about the next day or the next game, how you are going to play it out.

“It’s just the way it is. It’s just part of life. You live it during the summer and during the winter you relax as much you can.’’

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