Hartman: Gardenhire sweating over wins, not his job

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 31, 2012 - 11:37 PM

The Twins manager, in his second tough season after a string of success, isn't looking over his shoulder.

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire

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With the Twins losing 99 games last year and having an awful start this year, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he was worried about losing his job.

The truth is, with any other ownership, Gardenhire's job might have been in danger. But the Pohlads, who have owned the team since 1984, have not fired a manager in 26 years, even though Tom Kelly had some rough years and now Gardenhire is going through tough times.

"You know what? I understand the frustration with losing. It's not easy, but we're working at it," Gardenhire said. "If the organization ever feels that it's on my shoulders and I'm part of the problem, then they'll make a move.

"I like it here. I love what I do. My coaching staff works very hard. We've had some success here, but this game is all about success -- you just roll with it as best you can.

"We're going to try to figure out a way to get back into this thing this year, and see what happens. But people have to do what they have to do. I'm just going to manage until they tell me I can't anymore."

Gardenhire added: "I've got too many other things to worry about, I can't worry about that stuff. Other people worry about it and think about it. I'm trying to figure out how to win ballgames."

Despite having one of the worst records in baseball, Gardenhire hasn't given up on the team.

"You see some guys who can do some things," he said. "We have some pretty good players out there. We got a lot of young pitching and we have to get consistency out of them. We have to get some of these starters back. Frankie [Francisco Liriano] stepped back [in Wednesday's victory over the A's] and that was huge. We have to get Blackie [Nick Blackburn] back out there throwing the baseball like he can.

"We have a couple guys up from the minor leagues that are throwing real well and really helped us out. We have to get our starting pitching straightened out along with our hitting at the same time, then we can do some things."

One positive thing that has happened is Justin Morneau starting to look like he did before he suffered his long string of injuries.

"He's doing great. He doesn't have any complaints," Gardenhire said. "He's going out there and playing. Every day I ask him how he's doing and he says he is ready to go, wants to play first base. Absolutely he loves playing first base."

Well, Gardenhire didn't get dumb overnight. He has won six division titles. Lets face the fact, players win pennants. And the Twins don't have the players they had in the good old days of division titles and World Series.

Big stadium meeting

The Vikings ownership will have its first big meeting on the building of the new stadium next week in New York.

Attending the meeting with Mark and Zygi Wilf and Don Becker, the real estate lead on the stadium who is employed by the Wilfs, will be Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of public affairs and stadium development; Steve Poppen, vice president of finance/chief financial officer; and Kevin Warren, vice president of legal affairs and chief administration officer.

Bagley said he hopes that Gov. Mark Dayton will have made his three appointments and Mayor R.T. Rybak his two appointments to the new Minnesota Sports Facility Authority by the time the meeting is held. The panel will oversee the stadium construction and work out the team's 30-year lease.

"We're very anxious to get going on the stadium plans," Bagley said.

Meanwhile, it was learned that the Vikings spent $300,000 on radio, television and newspaper advertising and $600,000 on lobbyists to get the stadium vote.

Jottings

• In Wednesday's column, I mentioned how much young pitchers such as Scott Diamond, P.J. Walters and Cole De Vries are helping the Twins. They all are being paid the pro-rated minimum major league salary of $480,000 each.

• Josh Willingham, who was one big reason the Twins swept Oakland this week, played two seasons in the Northwoods League for the Southern Minny Stars, a franchise that lasted just two seasons, playing in Austin. In 1998, Willingham, who was a 19-year-old third baseman at the time, hit .275 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 62 games, and in 1999 he hit .337 with five home runs and 24 RBI in 28 games. The following year, he was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the MLB amateur draft. "It did me a lot of good. First of all, it got me playing with a wooden bat in the summer, which helped me when I came back to college swinging an aluminum bat. That and the competition helped me a lot more than anything," Willingham said.

• Through Wednesday night, former Twins first baseman Chris Parmelee had hit a tremendous .429 with a .556 on-base percentage since being sent down to Class AAA Rochester on May 15th. In his past three games, Parmelee has eight RBI and three home runs. On Wednesday night, he hit a big three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to tie the Red Wings' score with Charlotte. Rochester won in the 10th.

• Reliever Lester Oliveros, one of the pitchers acquired from Detroit in the Delmon Young trade last summer, has a combined record of 1-2 with a 1.88 ERA between Class AA New Britain and Class AAA Rochester. He has 13 strikeouts to just two walks in 9 2/3 innings for the Red Wings.

• Former Gophers defenseman David Fischer finished 15th in East Coast Hockey League playoff scoring and first among defensemen with three goals and nine assists in 13 playoff games for the Florida Everblades. ... Also in the ECHL playoffs, former Gopher Jacob Cepis was fifth among rookies in scoring with four goals and five assists in nine games for the Idaho Steelheads and former Gophers and Minnesota State Mankato wing Michael Dorr finished with two goals and two assists in nine games for the South Carolina Stingrays.

• A couple of Twins minor league pitchers are off to good starts. Pat Dean, a Twins third-round pick in 2010 out of Boston College, is among pitching leaders for Class A Fort Myers in the Florida State League. The lefthander is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA with 14 walks with 30 strikeouts in 11 starts for the Miracle. ... Eden Prairie native Madison Boer, a Twins 2011 second-round pick out of Oregon, is off to a rough start for the Miracle. In six starts, Boer is 0-6 with an 11.22 ERA and has given up 35 runs, 32 of them earned.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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