MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The latest change made by the Minnesota Twins in an offseason that will be full of them was the least surprising: general manager Terry Ryan's removal of the interim tag on his title.
Ryan confirmed Friday he's "all set and committed and ready to go" to try to turn around the Twins, who have finished 63-99 and 66-96 the last two years after winning their six division titles over the previous nine seasons. Ryan, who resigned from the post in 2007 to become an adviser until Bill Smith was fired last year, said he wasn't ready then for the job to be permanent or confident yet he still could do it.
This week he told team owner Jim Pohlad he's in.
"It's going to take everything we've got to turn this thing around quickly," Ryan told reporters at Target Field.
His first moves came Thursday, when he told bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Steve Liddle, first base coach Jerry White and head athletic trainer Rick McWane their contracts weren't being renewed. Hitting coach Joe Vavra and bench coach Scott Ullger will stay on the staff but in different roles, at manager Ron Gardenhire's discretion. Gardenhire will enter the final year of his contract without an extension for the first time in his 12 seasons in charge.
"We're committed to Ron, and he did not waver on coming back," Ryan said. "I know he didn't like losing his friends and people who've been with him and loyal, but he also understands that in this business change is inevitable."
Ryan said he told Gardenhire he wouldn't be offering him an extension but acknowledged that could be evaluated at any time next year.
"He's accepted that and said he didn't deserve a contract extension," Ryan said.
On other subjects:
— Ryan called Triple-A Rochester coaches Tom Brunansky, Bobby Cuellar and Gene Glynn "legitimate candidates" for the three open spots on Gardenhire's staff. Glynn was the manager, Brunansky the hitting coach and Cuellar the pitching coach for the Red Wings in the past. Cuellar at one time worked closely with two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. Many Twins prospects raved about Brunansky's work in his first season in Rochester. He was a key member of Minnesota's 1987 World Series championship team.
— Ryan said Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, currently a roving minor league instructor for the organization, is "at this time not going to be a fit" for any of the jobs. Ryan also said the team needs a Spanish-speaking coach on staff to better connect with players of Latino descent.
— Pitching coach Rick Anderson was the only member of Gardenhire's field staff kept in the same role, despite a starting rotation that ranked last in the league in ERA. "If you're going to give him the blame for the starters let's give him the praise for the relief," Ryan said. "I'm taking the responsibility of this club. ... He's accountable. He doesn't feel too good about what we did."
— Pohlad said the payroll won't be a hurdle for Ryan to rebuild the roster. "We have never told anybody that they have to spend 'X' dollars and we've never told them they can't spend whatever they are recommending," Pohlad said. Ryan pointed to Oakland's success with a modest budget as yet another example of how player salaries aren't the centerpiece of success.
— Pohlad is planning to sit down with noncommittal season-ticket holders who haven't renewed yet for next year. He said there's nobody more frustrated by the losing than him. "It's no fun. It just wrecks everything. It wrecks the whole summer. But we've been involved in this almost 30 years now. We all know there's no magic wand," Pohlad said.
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