Hartman: Pohlad expects better times ahead for Twins

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2013 - 12:23 AM

The club’s CEO backs GM Terry Ryan’s efforts but remains noncommital on Ron Gardenhire’s future.

Jim Pohlad, the chief executive officer of the Twins, was asked if it has been tough on him while watching his team go through three noncompetitive seasons.

“It’s terrible. I mean, no owner likes this,” Pohlad said. “There’s no counterbalance to losing. There is nothing on the good side to losing.

“We just have to keep working hard and try to develop the players and just be relentless looking for talent — whether it occurs during the offseason in the free-agency market or in the scouting world, we have to be relentless, because maybe we took our eye off the ball.”

While the policy of the Twins over the years has been to develop their own players and not go big in the free-agent market, Pohlad said: “That’s definitely something we’d like to pursue because we have to get better. There’s no way [of adding players] that is closed to us or Terry [Ryan, Twins general manager]. … I’m definitely optimistic. Terry is solid and we’re lucky to have him.”

He also said the team is worried about ticket sales dropping if the Twins continue to post losing seasons.

“We still believe the Target Field experience is a great one, but winning really helps,” Pohlad said. He believes the Twins aren’t far away from being competitive.

Meanwhile, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is without a contract after this year. Pohlad said Gardenhire’s status will be evaluated after the season.

Is there any reason he won’t be back?

“Well, that’s Terry’s decision, but he’ll consult with all of us,” said Pohlad, who added that nothing has been decided.

It was interesting that Pohlad made it clear Ryan will be around in the future but refused to say the same about Gardenhire.

No doubt Twins President Dave St. Peter will be involved in the decision to keep or replace Gardenhire. And St. Peter has been a solid backer of former Twin and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor as a coach or manager.

But players, not managers, are responsible for teams winning. And Gardenhire certainly hasn’t been given the talent to put a winning team on the field, especially with a lack of anything resembling good starting pitching.

Griffen tough to keep

One of the toughest free agents for the Vikings to sign following this season will be defensive end Everson Griffen.

The Vikings drafted Griffen in the fourth round in 2010 and the former USC standout took a few years to get going in the NFL, but last year he really broke out. He received a lot more playing time as defensive coordinator Alan Williams started using more rotations to keep the starters rested.

Griffen had 36 tackles (21 solo) during the regular season along with eight sacks, two fumble recoveries, three pass breakups and an interception that he returned 29 yards for a touchdown. His sack total was third best on the team behind Jared Allen’s 12 and Brian Robison’s 8.5.

Williams was asked what he saw in Griffen that made him believe he could contribute more.

“I still remember when I first came in and I was sitting in my office and I saw a blur just come across the screen,” Williams said. “I didn’t know the names or the numbers yet, so I went to my press guide and I looked up his number. I saw that he was in there, and then I looked and I didn’t see him getting as many reps.”

Williams said that while he wants to use Griffen more, he also wants to limit Griffen’s position changes so that he can stay focused and effective.

“With a guy that has that much talent,” Williams said, “you lock them into one or two positions and then he is even more special because he is doing what he is doing and you’re limiting the amount of things that he does.”

Jottings

• The University of Minnesota will celebrate 50 years of service to the school by former track coach Roy Griak on Sept. 26 at the DQ Club Room of TCF Bank Stadium.

• Tubby Smith has added former Gophers basketball staff members Joe Esposito, Vince Taylor and Steve Goodson to his staff at Texas Tech. Goodson had accepted a coaching job at a prep school in Scottsdale, Ariz., and then was convinced by Tubby to join the Red Raiders staff. Ron Jirsa, another member of Smith’s Gophers staff, has retired from coaching.

• Gophers outfielder Bobby Juan is having a banner year while playing for the La Crosse (Wis.) team of the Northwoods League, playing well in the field and hitting .293.

• The Huntsville (Ala.) Times recently had a feature on the fast rise of East Ridge center J.C. Hassenauer, who has committed to Alabama. Hassenauer, who received offers only from Alabama, the Gophers and Vanderbilt, has risen from being a three-star prospect to generally being considered the top center in the country in the Class of 2014. According to the story, his reputation has only grown since being named the offensive line MVP at The Opening, a big camp for top recruits held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.

• Former Gophers center Colton Iverson has signed a one-year contract with Besiktas of the Turkish League. Iverson was drafted in the second round by the Celtics, but the team already had 15 players signed to guaranteed contracts, so Iverson wouldn’t have been playing with them this year. … Former St. Cloud Tech and South Dakota State standout Nate Wolters has agreed to a guaranteed contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and most likely will be on the squad this year.

• While the big talk in Minnesota basketball recruiting surrounds Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones, DeLaSalle forward Reid Travis and former Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn in the Class of 2014, the Class of 2015 has its first big name in Jarvis Johnson. The 6-1 point guard out of DeLaSalle is ranked as the 55th-best recruit in the country by ESPN.com and already has offers from the Gophers, Iowa State, UCLA, Marquette and Wisconsin, among others.

• A minor note in Major League Baseball’s suspension of 13 players for using performance-enhancing drugs was that former Twins third baseman Danny Valencia was cleared of all wrongdoing after his name was linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida. Valencia adamantly denied any connection when his name was leaked in earlier news reports and said he had no idea how it could have gotten tied in with the scandal.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM 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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