Doug Mientkiewicz will manage Mud Hens; Lance Parrish heads to Whitecaps

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Doug Mientkiewicz

Two weeks after they made Ron Gardenhire their new big-league manager, the Tigers have picked another skipper with Twins lineage, Doug Mientkiewicz, as their man at Triple A Toledo.

Mientkiewicz, 43, will oversee the Mud Hens in 2018 and become the Tigers’ direct link to assessing and endorsing minor-league players bound for Detroit. The move has not been publicly announced by the Tigers but was confirmed to The Detroit News by a source close to the negotiations.

The hire set in motion a string of managerial changes within the Tigers farm system.

Lance Parrish, who had been at Double A Erie the past four years, will move to Single A West Michigan. Mike Rabelo, who was Whitecaps manager in 2017, is being promoted to Single A Lakeland, while Andrew Graham, who had been at Lakeland, takes over at Erie.

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Mientkiewicz is regarded as a fiery, aggressive skipper who is a particularly strong hitting coach. The Tigers were able to lure him to Toledo despite overtures from other clubs interested in adding him after he was fired in September after managing Single A Fort Myers in the Twins system.

Mientkiewicz was primarily a first baseman during a 12-season career that included the Twins, Red Sox, Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates, and Dodgers. He won a Gold Glove in 2001 and in 2004 won a World Series when he played for the Red Sox.

He had managed at two stops in the Twins farm chain, including Double A Chattanooga, before taking over at Fort Myers.

Mientkiewicz was also a finalist for the Twins big-league job in 2014, which eventually went to Paul Molitor after Gardenhire was axed.

The Tigers were deliberate, and quiet, about their search for a new boss at Toledo after Mike Rojas was fired in September.

Because of his celebrity and relatively high place in the Tigers farm chain, it was anticipated in fan circles that Parrish might end up at Toledo. But the Tigers decided to look elsewhere and Parrish now moves to fan-friendly Fifth Third Field, where the Whitecaps are one of the state’s west-side summer attractions.

“I’m ready and willing to go wherever they feel I can best serve them,” Parrish said Tuesday. “I’ve always heard a lot of good things about Grand Rapids. I’d been in and out a few times when I was managing at Midland (Dodgers organization), and I’ve always wanted to spend some extra time in the community and see what it’s all about.”

Mientkiewicz, likewise, will be getting acquainted with a new town as he reunites, to a degree, with Gardenhire, who was Mientkiewicz’s manager during their joint years with the Twins. Gardenhire had nothing but plus reports on Mientkiewicz who, at Toledo, will be in steady communication with his old manager and new front office at Comerica Park.