Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Gardenhire not lacking for coaching staff options

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Ron Gardenhire didn't just keep the manager's office stable in Minnesota for 13 years, he kept a relatively tight circle of coaches in his tenure, too. Now that he's a manager again with the Tigers, he has to fill out a new staff. Whether he goes back to the coaches he knows, looks to some of his former players who have stayed in the game or goes outside for candidates remains to be seen.

Whatever path he chooses, it's going to be a quietly crucial part of his tenure. With the Tigers unlikely to be active bringing in veteran players this winter, there's going to be a lot of coaching to do next spring.

DETROIT -- Ron Gardenhire didn't just keep the manager's office stable in Minnesota for 13 years, he kept a relatively tight circle of coaches in his tenure, too. Now that he's a manager again with the Tigers, he has to fill out a new staff. Whether he goes back to the coaches he knows, looks to some of his former players who have stayed in the game or goes outside for candidates remains to be seen.

Whatever path he chooses, it's going to be a quietly crucial part of his tenure. With the Tigers unlikely to be active bringing in veteran players this winter, there's going to be a lot of coaching to do next spring.

"That's a very important piece of the equation," Gardenhire said at his introductory press conference Friday. "You surround yourself with people that have your back, but also know the game and respect the game and are not afraid to state their opinion. This is about teaching, and we're going to have some young players with some veterans, and we need a very good staff to get through these things. So it's not something that you just step out there and say, 'I want this guy, this guy, this guy.'

"We're going to go over a lot of people. I could show you my phone right now and I can tell you how many people are looking for a job. I thought they were just friends. They want to be more than friends."

Gardenhire said he's not going to hurry into decisions. General manager Al Avila, in turn, indicated he's not going to dictate a staff.

"We are going to talk about it, and we will hire a staff together," Avila said. "I can't tell you right now if it's going to include former staff. He knows people. I know people."

Thanks to moves by other clubs over the past week, there are many well-regarded coaches suddenly on the market. The Cubs' move to part ways with longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio last week put him on the market along with former Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, former Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux and ex-Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland, among others. Warthen was the Tigers' pitching coach from 1999 until early in the 2002 season. A similar, albeit smaller, shakeup took place with hitting coaches.

All of those coaches worked for teams that were contenders in recent years. How many will want to take on a long-term rebuilding project would be a worthwhile question, as would whether the Tigers might be better off with coaches with more recent background in instruction roles.

"There's a lot of needs out here, and if you're going with a young ballclub, I want guys that can handle young players and be able to relay what they need to relay to them," Gardenhire said.

As for former Twins coaches under Gardenhire, no one had more time on his staff than Rick Anderson, pitching coach for all of Gardenhire's 13 seasons in Minnesota. He stepped down after Gardenhire and the Twins parted ways and did not join another club. Tom Brunansky, Gardenhire's hitting coach for his final two seasons with the Twins, stayed on Paul Molitor's staff through the 2016 season.

"I have to see if they want to get out of their RVs and do what they're doing," Gardenhire said of his old coaches. "I've got some that I've talked to. I've stayed in touch with all of them. Some of them, I couldn't tell you whether they would or wouldn't. And there's a couple of them that said [they would] be interested. That's something that Al and I will talk about. I definitely have people that I think are very important."

That said, Gardenhire cautioned, "I've got a ton of names on my phone, lots of people that I've known over the years. This isn't a buddy-buddy thing. It's about getting the right staff together that's going to be good for these guys, that can deal with young players and everything like that."

In addition, three former prominent players under Gardenhire -- Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer -- currently work for the Twins as special assistants. Hunter was a Tigers outfielder for two years.

"I think Torii likes the suite," Gardenhire said. "That's what I saw in Minnesota, because I was up there in the booth with him [when the D-backs played at Minnesota this past summer]. I don't know if he wants to be in this kind of uniform, out there on the field, or in [a suite] with the general manager. I think he likes that [latter] part better, but you'd have to ask Torii that."

Hunter told MLB.com in a text message last week he was happy for Gardenhire to get another chance at managing, but he did not respond when it was noted that it could be his opportunity to get into coaching.

One thing Gardenhire tried to make clear Friday is that little things will matter.

"All my coaches are going to be expected to pay attention to details, all the details," he said. "If we're not covering first base the right way, and we're hitting it with the wrong foot, I don't want them to just sit there and let it happen. I want them to stop it. That's the basics, and we're going to go to the basics, because that's the only way I know how to teach."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers