Ron Gardenhire reportedly next to interview with Nats for managerial opening

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will interview Ron Gardenhire today in his search for the team’s new skipper, according to a report from MLB.com. Gardenhire led the Twins to six American League Central titles during his 13 years as manager. He compiled a 1,068-1,039 record over his tenure, but was dismissed in 2014 following four straight seasons of 90-plus losses.

Gardenhire was drafted by the Mets in 1979 and played parts of five seasons in New York between 1981-1985 before injuries cut his career short. Gardenhire managed for three seasons in the Twins’ minor league system before joining Tom Kelly’s staff in Minnesota as a third base coach in 1991. The Twins won a World Series in his first season and he coached third for 11 seasons before succeeding Kelly as Twins manager in 2002.

Gardenhire-Twins-Sidebar.jpgGardenhire was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010 and has finished as the runner-up for the honor five times in his career. Despite their ability to reach the postseason, Gardenhire’s Twins didn’t have much success once they got there. The 57-year-old owns just a 6-21 record in the playoffs and advanced to the American League Championship Series only once, losing to the Angels in five games in 2002.

“We didn’t play well in the playoffs, and that’s on my record,” Gardnehire told reporters at a press conference following his dismissal. “I would have loved to win a World Series. But we got to the playoffs. You’ve got to live that part of it, too.”

The fiery Gardenhire was ejected 72 times during this managerial career with the Twins. He was beloved by his players and parted ways amicably with the Twins. Justin Moreau (2006) and Joe Mauer (2009) won AL Most Valuable Player awards under Gardenhire and left-hander Johan Santana was twice awarded the AL Cy Young (2004, 2006).

“I learned a lot from the guy, how to play the game the right way,” Mauer, a six-time All-Star, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2014. “How to be a professional, how to be a big leaguer. I’m very appreciative of the things he’s taught me.”

The Nationals relieved Matt Williams of his duties on Oct. 5. Rizzo has reportedly already interviewed veteran major league managers Dusty Baker and Bud Black, along with Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and Diamondbacks Triple-A skipper Phil Nevin.

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