If former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is serious about returning to the dugout next season, he could have multiple options.
Gardenhire’s agent, John Boggs, has been in contact with more than one club about a possible return, according to someone close to Gardenhire. San Diego, Milwaukee and Miami have fired their managers during the season, and Ryne Sandberg resigned from Philadelphia in late June. Several more teams are expected to fire managers at the end of the season.
One of those clubs could be Detroit, the Twins’ opponent this week at Target Field. A recent report had manager Brad Ausmus fired at the end of the season and named Gardenhire as the leading candidate to replace him. Gardenhire would be an interesting fit for the Tigers. Longtime Detroit manager Jim Leyland has spoken highly of Gardenhire for years and is a special assistant to General Manager Al Avila, who replaced Dave Dombrowski in that role last month.
Leyland and Avila are part of a large contingent of Tigers officials in town for the series. The group includes Alan Trammell, the former Tigers player and manager who also is a special assistant.
Gardenhire, who turns 58 in October, has mostly flown under the radar in his first summer off since college, spending time with his family and taking trips in his mobile home. The source said Gardenhire didn’t need time to recharge his batteries because they were never drained.
A longtime coach under former manager Tom Kelly, Gardenhire took over the Twins in 2002 and went 1,068-1,039 over 13 seasons, winning six division titles and reaching the American League Championship Series in 2002.
Gardenhire reportedly would like to bring back some members of his past coaching staffs if he does return to managing.
Deliberate or not, the Twins’ rotation is providing clues as to who would be available to pitch in the wild-card playoff game — provided the Twins make it that far.
The Twins have announced that Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson will start the first three games of the upcoming series against the Angels. There is one more scheduled off day, on Monday. If the Twins use that day to push everyone in the rotation back a day, Gibson would be available for the Oct. 6 wild-card game. If the Twins don’t push everyone back a day, Gibson could pitch the final game of the regular season on Oct. 4. — on which everything could be on the line.
With six available starters, the Twins could make further adjustments.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said he spent a lot of time with pitching coach Neil Allen on Tuesday discussing their plans for the rotation.
If the Twins grab the final wild-card spot they would head to New York, provided the Yankees hold onto the other wild-card spot. New York entered Tuesday three games back of Toronto in the AL East and have lost first baseman Mark Teixeira (right leg fracture) for the season.
• Torii Hunter entered Tuesday batting .414 over the past seven games, but Molitor decided to hold him out of the starting lineup. Part of the reason is Hunter is 1-for-10 against Alfredo Simon, who started Tuesday.
• Tigers righthander Anibal Sanchez was scratched from Wednesday’s start because of shoulder problems. He will visit with specialist Dr. James Andrews. Lefthander Daniel Norris will start in his place and will be limited to around 50 pitches.