No ride-along for Ron Gardenhire on Al Avila's extension, but he's OK with that
Detroit – When he hired Ron Gardenhire as manager of the Tigers before the 2018 season, Al Avila told him, “You and me both have three years to get this right.”
On Friday, Tigers chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch gave Avila more time in the form of a multi-year extension. Gardenhire was not.
“It doesn’t affect him at all,” Avila said. “Gardy is our manager and he’s done a great job. We brought him in to manage this young, rebuilding team and we think he’s doing a marvelous job. At this point, there is no issue there at all.”
Gardenhire, 61, is under contract through next season. He neither expected nor requested a similar extension to his contract.
“I still have one more year, I hope,” Gardenhire said, smiling. “I’ve got to make it through this season yet. I’ve got another year and that’s exactly what I agreed to. And I am happy with it.
"We both talked that at the end of the three years we’ll see where we’re at.”
With Avila’s extension, though, came reassurance that the organization is committed to his plan for rebuilding the club, and that includes Gardenhire and his coaching staff, as much as it does Avila’s front office department heads.
“The hardest thing in these types of situations is staying with the program,” Gardenhire said. “Sometimes when it’s as rough as it’s gotten up here, you start thinking should I change my mind and start adding some people in here.
“He’s stayed with it and that’s important for our organization. To let the guys grow down there and keep building and keep putting more players in it, until eventually you see the benefits of it this level. And that’s what he’s done. He’s holding true to his promise and that’s what you have to do in his position.”
The relationship between Gardenhire and Avila is built on mutual respect. It’s also built on brutal honesty and occasional fits of temper.
“I am happy for him,” Gardenhire said. “He’s fun to work for. I enjoy it. We have a good relationship. He’s a fiery little guy and I don’t mind that. I kind of like it.”
Avila, as he’s admitted often, gets emotional at times, particularly after tough losses, and he doesn’t always filter his opinions before sharing them with Gardenhire.
“He’s not afraid to come in here and fire a question at me and I can answer him back how I want to answer him back,” Gardenhire said, laughing. “He will ask questions about why are you playing this guy, why are you playing that guy.
“And then he’ll calm down and everything goes good. He’s a good man, a good baseball man and I’ve got a lot of respect for that. He’s treated me very well and he’s treated my coaching staff very well. I think he appreciates how hard we work. That’s all you can ask for.”
So, Gardenhire was asked, how do those discussion usually get resolved?
“He wins,” he said.