Gardenhire returns to Target Field, discusses role

Gardenhire returns to Target Field, discusses role

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire returned to Target Field on Wednesday in his role as special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan.

It marked the first time Gardenhire had been at the ballpark since he was dismissed as manager following the 2014 season after managing the club for 13 years. Gardenhire has already visited each of the organization's Minor League affiliates, and Ryan asked him to see the Twins in person this week, especially with the MLB Draft on Thursday and David Ortiz's pregame ceremony before Friday's game against the Red Sox.

Gardenhire, who was hired in early April, has done a bit of everything in his new role, as he's advised the club's Minor League managers, scouted players and helped run drills.

"[Ryan] wanted to me see the Major League club after seeing all the other ones," Gardenhire said. "It's been fun being in the dugout watching the games with all the different managers we have. Just seeing what they're doing. Doing the things I missed the most, like going out on the field with the players and doing drills and answering questions from the staff."

Gardenhire has already spent time with Class A Cedar Rapids, Class A Advanced Fort Myers, Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester, and he is scheduled to head to the Dominican Republic early next month. He said he doesn't try to meddle with the managers and their decision-making, but is there to give advice if needed.

"I'm not going to sit and tell them their business because I've been there, but I'll answer any questions," Gardenhire said. "We talk about strategy and things like that. I like sitting in the dugout, because I see how manager is reacting and what they're focusing on."

Gardenhire also files reports on each of the players he sees, and Ryan said it's been helpful to hear Gardenhire's perspective given his history as a manager, coach and former big leaguer.

"He's down in the dugout with them, and he certainly knows what it takes to be up here," Ryan said. "So I take it pretty seriously. He's able to see things that somebody like myself maybe doesn't see the same. He's right down in that dugout in uniform and I'm not. So it's a good trade-off."

Despite seeing the Twins in person for the first time on Wednesday, Gardenhire said he's followed the team this year and watched several of its games on television, and he feels for manager Paul Molitor.

"It's hard, because I know what Mollie is going through and I know what the players are going through," Gardenhire said. "Sometimes the harder you try, the worse it gets. You can see they're doing things they didn't do last year, pushing the envelope. So it's hard."

Gardenhire also added he'd like to get another shot at managing again, but that he's happy in his current role.

"It somebody calls, I'll listen," Gardenhire said. "I interviewed twice last year. My agent is on it. He calls me whenever he hears some buzz. But I'm not out there actively pursuing anything. If a team makes a move, I'd be glad to talk to them, because I'd love to manage again. But it's not live or die for me."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.