Ron Gardenhire, the embattled manager of the Twins, sent a text to Eric Wedge today wishing him well. Perhaps only another manager can understand the stress of managing, and Gardenhire has done it for 12 years now. He’s won six division titles, but now the Twins are facing their third straight season of 90-plus losses. Gardenhire said he feels empathy for Wedge, who is out indefinitely after suffering what has been termed a mild stroke.
“I kind of know first hand,” Gardenhire said of the stress. “I’ve been sick a few times myself. It’s a stressful job, and you do a lot of thinking about it, and a lot of worrying about it. You try to do the right things. There’s a lot more stressful jobs than ours. But you have to pay attention to your health. There’s kind of, as they say, a band of brothers here, so we all think about each other when something happens. We’re very concerned about him and glad he’s doing OK and doing better.”
Asked how he dealt with the stress, the 55-year-old Gardenhire said,. “You try to do the best you can with it. The job is what it is. There’s a lot of tense moments, and you’re going to have to deal with a lot of stuff. It’s not easy. But like I said, there’s a lot more stressful jobs than ours. You try to put it in perspective. It’s a baseball game. You try to help the guys out there do the best they can. But you don’t want to make yourself sick doing this. We all know that’s something that happens every once in awhile. It can’t wear you out.
“You don’t sleep well at night. That’s just part of the job. That’s why when you get a break, you take advantage of it. The all-star break was huge. We were going through a real tough time. That was huge for our team and myself and everybody else. You like to try to get away from it and clear your mind, but you really never do. Win, lose or draw, you’re always thing about the next day, the next game. That’s just the way it is. You live it during the summer, and during the winter you try to relax as much as you can.
Gardenhire said that having managed so many years helps him cope better with the stress. He knows going in that some moves are going to be successful and some are going to backfire.
“That doesn’t change the fact it eats away at you all night when you’re losing tough games,” he said. But you have to bounce back the next day because the players out there look to me and the way I carry myself, it definitely shows in the way they go about their business. I tell my staff our job is to stay positive and keep the positive attitude.”
As for his point that there are more stressful jobs, Gardenhire related an anecdote.
“As one of my players once said, an air traffic controller’s job is supposed to be the most stressful. My player said, ‘What could me so stressful about going up in a helicopter and watching traffic?’ I love that guy. He put things into perspective for me. So you take it for what it is. That’s how I relax, by listening to stuff just like that.”
Meanwhile, Robby Thompson, the Mariners’ acting manager, said that he talked to Wedge today.
“He’s doing real well. He sounded great,” Thompson sid. “He’d just gotten back from one of his therapy things and said it went very well. Obviousl, those kind of things are going to continue. It’s part of the process of him getting better and moving forward with it. But he sounded really good.”
Thompson said he didn’t talk much baseball with Wedge, and that he is leaving decisions on things like lineups and game strategy to Thompson and his staff for the most part.
“He basically said, hey, he trusts in me and knows what I’m all about. Myself and the rest of the staff will daily piece together our lineup. As of late, it’s been pretty easy. The lineup has been fairly steady each and every day, with maybe a change here or there. Hopefully that continues. I will definitely be in touch and talk with Eric, pretty close to every day, whether it be on the lineup issue or baseball or just talking and seeing how he’s doing. And I’m sure he’ll want to know how we’re doing and how the players are doing.”
One of those players, Michael Morse, will try to play nine innings with Tacoma tonight on his rehab assignment from a quad injury.
“I talked to him briefly today and he’s champing at the bit,” Thompson said. “He says he feels real good.”
Good enough, in fact, that Morse could be back with the Mariners by the weekend if all goes well.
It could be,” Thompson said. “We’ll know more tonight, and how he comes out of tonight’s nine inning game. If it all goes well, we’ll go from there. So hopefully there’s not setbacks.”
On Franklin Gutierrez, also rehabbing with Tacoma, Thompson said, “I heard he’s doing really well. He’s swinging the bat well.. He’s feeling good. How far off he is, I’m not quite sure now. I would say Michael Morse is closer than Guti is right now. But I understand Guti is doing well.”
As father of twin boys himself, Thompson said he could relate to Twins All-Star Joe Mauer, who is missing at least the first two games of this series on paternity leave after his wife gave birth yesterday to twin girls.
“I hope everything is going well with his whole leave,” Thompson said. “I understand he had twins, so I know what that’s all about. So good for him. Mine are now 23, so he’s in for double the pleasure.
Thompson joked that he wouldn’t mind if Mauer took four days to be with his family.
“Stay home, take care of those kids. But we wish him well with all that.”