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December 6, 2006

Ron Gardenhire


Q. Is there any news on Rondell possibly returning? How do you feel about it?
RON GARDENHIRE: We're talking to him. We are going to talk to him and throw something out at him and see what happens. We all know the second half of the year he is really good. Had a great second half for us, he is healthy, he's working out, been told that he's, you know, losing weight and all those things which didn't think that was possible, because he's in good shape anyway, but we can get him healthy and he would be a great option for us as a DH, seeing where all the salaries are.
There's not that much out there and Rondell, we know he can hit, did it in the second half. So, we are going to make a run at him and see what happens.

Q. So, you would be looking at him as a DH, because he played also right and left field?
RON GARDENHIRE: No, he would be left field, but that would put somebody else as our DH, which we just flip-flop if we sign him. If we don't, then you go other ways. We know Rondell does not like the DH, but he would have to play left, which he did fine out there.

Q. Looking at Kubel more as the DH then?
RON GARDENHIRE: And that is one of our issues, Kubel with his knees, had surgery on his knees, surgery on the other knee. So, that is the issue. So, Kubel may be better suited to DH right now and you can mix and match out there.

Q. How do you feel about Rondell as a defensive player?
RON GARDENHIRE: Did fine. He ran the ball down good. He paid attention. Jerry liked him out there. You know, he doesn't throw great or anything like that, but he ran the balls down and made the plays. That's all we ask. That's fine. The issues that we had with him when we talked about it before was diving around like he was an aggressive outfielder, diving around and hurting himself. Those are all the things that worry you when Rondell is out in left field, but sometimes, you just got to go for it. If he can come in and be an offensive threat in the lineup, he could help us. And plus, you're looking at one of the classiest guys in the game. We kind of like those guys.

Q. Any doubt in your mind that he would have a better season next year?
RON GARDENHIRE: Oh, I think if you ask him, he would probably say "I have to". I mean there's no way he can repeat that. He just struggles really bad early in the season.
Like I said, I look at the second half and in the playoffs when he was swinging well and got a lot of big hits for us. I don't think our team rooted for anybody any harder than they did for him and that says a lot about him.

Q. You like what he had brought to the club?
RON GARDENHIRE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Classy. A good teammate, even when he was really not playing very well, he was always on the top step, cheering the guys on. He didn't sulk, he didn't do anything. He came to play every day and he rooted. Like I said, he did what he had to as a veteran.

Q. Is it safe to say that because he had that kind of an attitude, he's a guy you were looking at trying to bring back?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, we are trying to make an effort and we will see what happens.

Q. I mean, if he wouldn't have been like that you would have said no way, don't want this guy back?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, you're always looking for production, but always with the baseball team, that's -- you try to keep the clubhouse unity and all those things also, along with that. So he fits all of them.

Q. Are you confident that Kubel is going to be ready for spring training?
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, from what we've been told, yes. I mean, he went in with his bad knee and had scope on another knee, so maybe if we can get him to limp equally, we will be okay. We are hoping that he does some work this way. He's been told enough now, now it's on his shoulders. He's got to do a lot of work this winter, he needs to go down to spring training early and he needs to come prepared to play.

Q. Besides Rondell, how many other free agent options are there out there for you right now?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, not that many. I mean, I have a seen the numbers that are flying around. We are not in that market so -- but as it goes along it is going to calm down we think a little bit and there's going to be chances and trade possibilities, everybody is talking about them. There's lots of options out there but we signed Rondell, then that knocks off one thing we have to worry about.

Q. What's your five-man rotation right now?
RON GARDENHIRE: Next question? I don't know. I haven't got that far yet.

Q. You know where I'm headed to with that.
RON GARDENHIRE: I don't know the first three yet. Why do you want five? Give me three and then we'll go for the other two, all right.
Right now, we got Johan and we got Bonser and we got Silva, those three are in uniform and then we got the kids from there on out, the kids.

Q. Does any one of the kids have a leg up on anybody else?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, Garza's got some experience, Baker's got some experience, Perkins got, what, two or three innings in. He ought to be ready. We like their arms. We like Sosa, another young man in our minor legs, great arm, locator of the ball, works quick, throws it over, so we like those guys. Now it's just a matter of going to spring training, if we don't do anything else, and figuring out who can.
We have Reyes, who started in the minor leagues for us when we sat him down and pitched him in the minor leagues. He has a rubber arm. You could honestly use him as a starter and get five or six innings in. He is throwing the ball really good and you go to another area have to find a left-hander, so we could try all kinds of things, we can do things, it's just, you know, you see where you're at, how everything breaks down and then you start. Right now, I can't even fill out a spring training roster because I don't know what we got, like a lot of clubs.

Q. Honestly, Reyes would be a last resort, you don't want to mess with him?
RON GARDENHIRE: We don't want to mess with Reyes. We always start looking and thinking about all your possibilities, starting pitching is a commodity right now that everybody is looking for, everybody is talking about starting pitching.

Q. How much would one more arm mean though? I mean if you could add one more experienced arm would that give you --
RON GARDENHIRE: Another veteran would be nice and I mean then you're talking, looking at one slot for one of those young pitchers and you can ad lib from there, you know it would be nice to find another starting pitcher and that's what we've talked about throughout.
That being said, you know, we won't, you know, as always, we will not give up all of our young pitching arms for one veteran pitcher, we won't do that, we won't sell off the farm. It's just we're looking to see what's out there.

Q. How confident are you that Terry is going to come up with another pitcher for you?
RON GARDENHIRE: Very confident. How do you like that one? Put that one in your paper.

Q. At this point, is Punto the starting third baseman?
RON GARDENHIRE: He is my third baseman.

Q. Is there any worry that he will wear down during the full season?
RON GARDENHIRE: During the postseason, I hope he wears down during the postseason.

Q. Not during the full season?
RON GARDENHIRE: Oh, no. If we are in the postseason and he wears down, I'm okay with that. No. I think he proved he could go out there and play every day last year. Diving all over the place, as you've all seen, diving in the stands, you know, he's on a different program with his body now, some kind of yoga or whatever and he's doing well. His body's able to handle just about anything you throw at him. He didn't really want days off, so I think he set himself up pretty good.

Q. Is it possible your division could be even tougher next season than it was this last?
RON GARDENHIRE: No doubt. No doubt. Our division is going to be very good. We know Detroit's going to be right back there, Chicago, they are not gonna sit back and wait for anybody, Cleveland is definitely gonna have a better year, they are getting better and the Royals are loading up. Been hearing all kinds of things about what they are trying to do so I can't see it going away. I think it is going to be one heck of a division again.

Q. Did you try to talk Brad out of quitting?
RON GARDENHIRE: We've all said, you know, one more year. Brad has pretty much done what he had to do in the game, I think. And until he makes his official announcement in front of you guys, we still got options with him. We are still talking but doesn't look very good, let's put it that way.

Q. The injury to the infielder, Castilla, the guy coming up?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, he hasn't played much in the bigs, only got a couple of at-bats but he impressed the heck out of us with his work habits and the way he handled himself when he got out there on the field. He is one of our top prospects, let's put it that way, and we think we could probably slot him in to help out and he would do a very good job. A speed guy, could slap the ball around, could play short, he could play second and very athletic young man. So we are very excited about that. If we did have a big injury, he would probably be first in line to see what happens and you would go from there.

Q. What do you see as his long-term position?
RON GARDENHIRE: Probably second base with a younger Bartlett over there and Bartlett can handle himself like he did last year. Castillo as he gets a little older, got one or two more years with him whatever it is, then you probably see him slotting in, something like that. But that's, you know, all down the road hopefully.

Q. Is there any discussion about having a second left-hander in the bullpen?
RON GARDENHIRE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Talked a lot about that. We put a lot of pressure on Reyes last year and it's all about having the best arms in the bullpen, and if you could find another left-hander that could do the job that's better than a right-hander, then do you it, but if he's not out there, you just stay with your right-handed guys and you go from there. But it would be nice, absolutely.

Q. I'm guess the preference would be to have Glen Perkins as a starter but would you consider him to work out of the bullpen for you?
RON GARDENHIRE: No, he needs to start right now. My goal is for him to be one of our starters eventually here and to put him in the bullpen right now, he needs work still. He needs to pitch but he is game on. But I would rather see him starting. If he doesn't make our club as a starter, I think he should throw innings in AAA, I think Terry would agree to that he needs to pitch right now.

Q. If you don't get the veteran starter, Perkins is probably the lead guy?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, that's gonna be entertaining. That's why we have spring training. We'll run them out there, I don't think we have a leader. I think we have a bunch of young, good arms that are going to go out there and compete and see what happens. He is pretty good, Garza, we know he can throw the ball, experienced. Baker, we are all still looking for him to step up and get it done so, you know, those guys can all throw the ball. That is pretty nice to have a little depth here with some young pitchers that have got a little bit of experience and they all throw the ball.

Q. In an ideal world, would you like to see Garza develop a little more in the minors?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, yeah, in an ideal world. I mean, all those young pitchers, but if it's not out there, it's not out there, got to put him out there and let him go.

Q. Do you expect Durbin to make the team in spring training? He is out of options.
RON GARDENHIRE: He is out of options. That is another one we have to look at, and you know, the arm injury last season, but he was throwing the ball the best we've seen him in probably three years. So he's gonna be, you know, one of those guys in spring training that we're gonna take a real hard look at and hope that he bounces back and really, you know, was healthy enough to come and help us, because he's very talented, another great arm and if he's healthy and throwing the ball like he did when he went down, he is pretty good. He is pretty good.

Q. I guess the GMs are voting today about fielding practice for games, right? I think you are big on fielding practice and sounds like they are going to vote to ban that before games. How do you feel about that?
RON GARDENHIRE: Every team has pretty much done it, when you're on the road, you don't have enough time to take an infield and get ready for the game anyway, they backed the BP up so late. So you know what, we tell our guys to do their work during batting practice, we throw the first baseman, turn double plays.
We do all of our work during batting practice. We just started doing it because infield just has gotten pushed out of the way anyway. So, I've talked with Terry about that, there's not much we can do about it. This works out pretty good. When you're taking infield, you're the home team, you take BP, then you have the visiting team taking, then you have to go back out, take an infield, you are getting guys loose like three different times, have to loosen up for BP, have to loosen up for infield and have to loosen up for the game. This way when we do it for BP, we don't have to come back out to the game. That is the issue and I think it is about shortening the down time from end of batting practice to the game for the fans. I guess they don't enjoy watching the ground crew that much.

Q. Usually players try to talk you out of having infield anyway?
RON GARDENHIRE: Sure that is a bargaining tool. Get a lot of free dinners that way.

Q. Is Guerrier an option in the rotation?
RON GARDENHIRE: We like Guerrier where he's at. We've always liked Matty right where he is at and he seems to -- when we have trouble out of the start, he can come in and he changes the speeds, he's got the big curveball, he seems to get us to our bullpen if he can stay in the game and he has been good at that, we like him in the long relief. And in certain situations matching up other teams. But I'd rather keep him where he's at.

Q. Do you have any reaction to some of the contracts that have been signed?
RON GARDENHIRE: [ Coughing ] Can you print that one? "Cough, cough." That's my reaction. They are flinging it out there and that's baseball. We try not to pay much attention to it, other than reading it and just going, oh my.
You got to remember, we've got a couple of young guys that are arbitration eligible that we are trying to sign. So when you see the ching-ching going out there, Terry is squinching pretty hard.

Q. Even a rumor I heard about you guys getting Bonds.
RON GARDENHIRE: La velle started that rumor. Had to have. Yeah.

Q. There was a New York Times article --
RON GARDENHIRE: I saw, I saw, I'd say the premiere player out there and that would probably be a hard thing for us to be able to put together. I don't really want to trade my infield. So that's what it would probably take.

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