Gardenhire seeking clarity about coaching staff before locking in to 2020

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, right, wants to ensure the status of coaches like pitching coach Rick Anderson before committing to his future with the the ninth inning.

Detroit — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire has a year left on his contract after this season. He has the support of controlling owner Christopher Ilitch, who praised him and his coaching staff in a short media session Friday, and general manager Al Avila, who said two weeks ago that he wanted Gardenhire back to manage in 2020.

And Gardenhire has said all season that he intended to honor his contract.

There remains one potential snag, and it’s not about a possible extension beyond next year. At some point before the end of the season, Avila and Gardenhire will discuss the status of his coaching staff, whose contracts expire after this season.

“It’s always up to the boss and Al has said I want you back; I don’t have to worry about that,” Gardenhire said before the game Saturday. “Now we’ll have to have a conversation on the rest of it. Not about an extension; I don’t (care) about that. That’s to be determined.

“I want to talk about my coaches more than anything else. I defend those guys no matter what happens here. That would be hard for me to take, if anything happens to my coaches. Those are the conversations we’re going to have.”

On Gardenhire’s staff are three coaches he brought with him from his staff in Minnesota — pitching coach Rick Anderson, bench coach Steve Liddle and quality control coach Joe Vavra. The other coaches — hitting coaches Lloyd McClendon and Phil Clark, outfield coach Dave Clark, infield coach Ramon Santiago and bullpen coach Jeff Pico — were Avila hires.

After two seasons together, though, Gardenhire speaks of the whole staff as his own.

“I have their back,” he said. “I’m watching them do all this work here and they’re my friends, not just my coaches. We all work together. I care about them, that’s what any manager would do.

“Ultimately, though, the decision doesn’t always come down to me. No one has said a word, but we will eventually.”

Ilitch gave Avila a multi-year extension in July. It would up to Avila to give Gardenhire a similar extension and he has said he plans to have that conversation at the appropriate time.

“Under Gardy's leadership, our players, our team, has battled," Ilitch said Friday. "They're working hard game in and game out. I know it's a grind, but these guys are battling and that's a real credit to Gardy's leadership.

“…(The players) are developing under Gardy. He is doing a fine job. I really admire the resolve that both Gardy and Al have shown through this whole rebuilding process.”

Twitter: @cmccosky