Hartman: Despite tough year, Gardy savors work

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2012 - 11:59 AM

Consistent play and pitching remain in short supply, but the Twins manager loves the challenges of the job.

The Twins have not enjoyed much success the past two seasons, but that hasn't changed Ron Gardenhire's love of being a manager, and if it is up to Gardy he will definitely return next year as the pilot for the team.

"I love what I'm doing. I like running the ballclub, I like the Minnesota Twins organization," Gardenhire said. "Until [Twins General Manager] Terry [Ryan] tells me he's going to do something else, I'll just keep on chugging along. My goal is to win a World Series here, and I don't want to quit until I do that. That's not up to me. That's something to be addressed at the end of the season."

And Gardenhire said he loves his coaches, that they work their tails off and he would like to bring them all back.

As for the poor results over the past two seasons, Gardenhire said the big problem is that the team has been inconsistent just about all the way around.

"I like the lineup, I like the guys in there, but we've missed a lot of opportunities," he said. "Not a lot of big two-out base hits and things like that that end up putting you over the hump. We've lost a lot of one-run ballgames. We've gotten behind in a lot of ballgames, had to fight our way back and it's been a battle. We're still battling."

The Twins are 17-17 in one-run games, the second-most one-run losses in the AL behind Seattle, and have played the most one-run games in the league. If they had won nine more of those games, they would be tied for third in the AL Central, 3 1/2 games out of first.

Gardenhire said the problems with the starting pitching began in the spring with injuries to some key pitchers, notably Scott Baker. He would like to keep Francisco Liriano as the ace of the 2013 staff but said he doesn't have any control over that.

"Absolutely you'd love to keep the guy and all your pitchers that get people out," he said. "All I can do is put him out there and let him pitch. There's a lot of things we need to touch up and tweak here, but more than anything else it's starting pitching. We have to get some consistency and some good arms."

New Wolves in Russia

The two newest members of the Timberwolves, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, played for CSKA Moscow in three different leagues over the 2011-2012 season and thrived in each.

In the Euroleague, Shved averaged 10.6 points on 48.4 percent shooting from the field and 49.3 percent shooting from three-point range to go along with three assists per game in 21 games. In 17 games, Kirilenko averaged 14.1 points on 59.8 percent shooting from the field, 41.7 percent on three-pointers, to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Kirilenko was named the MVP of the Euroleague.

In the VTB United League, Shved averaged 10.1 points over 18 games on 57 percent shooting from the field and 34.6 percent on three-pointers. Kirilenko averaged 11.4 points in 11 games on 60 percent shooting, 34.8 on three-pointers, along with 6.1 rebounds and four assists per game.

In the Russian League, Shved averaged 11.6 points in 23 games on 49.6 percent shooting, 39.2 from three-point range, along with 3.3 assists per game. Kirilenko played in 15 games and averaged 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and one block per game; he shot 64 percent from the floor in that league.

Jottings

• The new three-year contract extension for Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith includes strong buyouts for the last two years. Meanwhile, his assistant coaches will get only one-year extensions.

• While the Wild has enjoyed a big increase in season ticket sales since the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Timberwolves current season ticket sales of 8,100 are the most since the 2004-2005 season. There has been a 95 percent renewal of season tickets, including 99 percent in the lower level. More than 1,200 new season tickets have been sold. Looking back to last season, the television ratings increased 132 percent and merchandise sales by 200 percent.

• Playing for the Gophers football team this fall will be five players who have already received their degrees including Troy Stoudermire, Keanon Cooper, Ryan Grant, MarQueis Gray and Brandon Green, plus five more who will have graduated by the end of the season -- Brendan Beal, Mike Rallis, Spencer Reeves, Eric Jacques and Malcolm Moulton. Austin Hahn, who also graduated, chose to take a job and not return to play in his senior year.

• Ex-Gophers football coach Glen Mason will be back on the Big Ten Network this year, and a newcomer will be former Gopher Justin Conzemius.

• The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League have extended the contract of former St. Louis Park, Gophers and NFL assistant Marc Trestman for four years.

• Former Gophers catcher Mike Kvasnicka was named the South Atlantic League player of the week after batting .385 with four homers and 15 RBI last week for Houston's Class A team Lexington. In last Sunday's 13-7 win at Greenville, Kvasnicka went 3-for-4 with two homers and a career-high seven RBI. In his past 10 games, Kvasnicka, who now plays outfield, is batting .326 with four doubles, five homers and 20 RBI.

• Former Minneapolis North and Wisconsin standout Kammron Taylor recently finished up his time with the Timberwolves in the NBA Summer League, ending up third in scoring at 10 points per game and second on the team at 2.3 assists per game.

• Royce White, the Hopkins star drafted by Houston, finished strong at the Summer League, averaging 10.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists over his final three games. Fred Hoiberg, the former Timberwolves player and executive who coached White at Iowa State, thinks White will be a star in the NBA for the Rockets. Hoiberg, by the way, who could move to a bigger program, is happy to finish his career as a coach in his hometown at Iowa State.

• Steve Walsh, the former Cretin-Derham Hall, University of Miami and NFL quarterback, has been coaching at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., since 2008 and after a 4-6 record his first season finished 7-4 in 2010 and earned the school's first playoff spot since 2005. This past year, Walsh coached his team to an 11-1 record before losing in the playoffs.

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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