The Detroit Tigers open Spring Training this week, led by former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. The 60 year-old manager brings experience and fire to a young team.
This week, the Detroit Tigers report to Lakeland for spring training. It marks the end of a long and eventful offseason. The former AL Central Champions turned from one of the oldest and most expensive teams in baseball, to one of the youngest, in just the span of a few months. The Tigers went from being built on free agents, to built on homegrown talent. The Tigers hired a new manager who is no stranger to this: Ron Gardenhire.
“I’ve been there” Gardenhire said, “There aren’t going to be too many surprises for me. It’s about finding new talent and making players understand how we’re going to find all the little details and do all those little things.”
Gardenhire brings 13 years of major league managerial experience to Detroit. He helped build young Twins teams. He brought out the best in All-Stars such as Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer.
He’s an old-school manager with a record of success. Under Gardenhire, the Twins won six division titles and over 1,000 games. He’s one of 10 managers to win more than 1,000 games with one franchise. Gardenhire won the 2010 manager of the year award, and finished second five times.
The Tigers remind Gardenhire of his early days with Minnesota.
“We were a small-market team. it was constant development, teaching, trying to rebuild and get back to where you want to be. As a manager, it was constant change. We lost a lot of players in free agency.”
It’s uncertain how long it will be before Detroit competes again. Due to heavy spending and a win-now attitude, the Tigers haven’t had the best farm system. It will take time to draft and cultivate young talent. It may be years before the Tigers compete again.
“I don’t want to lose.” Gardenhire said, “Who’s to say we have to lose next year? Who’s to say? Baseball is a great game and a lot of things can happen.”
The Tigers host their first Spring Training practice tomorrow. Detroit also plays their first spring game Friday, February 23rd, against the New York Yankees.