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07/18/07 4:01 PM ET

Catching Tigers is goal for Gardenhire

Manager discusses players and playoffs during exclusive chat

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire participated in a Web chat with Twins Territory Team members Wednesday. The skipper talked about the Twins' needs as the trade deadline approaches, Juan Rincon and Nick Punto's recent struggles, and his superstitions.

suciu: Since the team has no definite left fielder, how do you decide who gets the start in left on a daily basis?

Ron Gardenhire: Matchups with the opposing pitcher -- left or right. I make sure I'm using everyone. More than anything I try to go with matchups and how he's done against a particular pitcher.

epvbgirl: If you had to choose between signing Johan Santana or Torii Hunter, who would you choose? Why?

Gardenhire: I would choose both. They're both a manager's best friend.

einman: Can you fill us in on Francisco Liriano's condition?

Gardenhire: He's doing well. He's rehabbing in Florida. He may even be able to get some pitching off the mound by September. He should be ready for next year.

NeshekRox: What exactly do you say to umps when they toss you?

Gardenhire: Most of it starts with "You ...," or "You're ..." Probably words you shouldn't use when talking to another person. But sometimes I do it to make sure my players understand I will fight for them. And I want them to stay in the game.

cjw_55106: Forget about Torii, when are the Twins going to sign your extension?

Gardenhire: I'm actually signed through 2009 and very excited to be here. All I know is we need to catch the Tigers and go from there. All things work out if you're having fun and you put a good team on the field that you enjoy.

Candle79: Some guys have superstitions when it comes to playing. Do you have any?

Gardenhire: Yes. I write my lineups with the same color ink if we win. I make sure I chew the same bubble gum. I am definitely superstitious.

cjw_55106: Mechanically, is there anything wrong with Juan Rincon? It seems as though he has really been struggling lately.

Gardenhire: His velocity is the same. It's more location and like you said, mechanics. He seems to be jumping a bit causing his location to be more middle. He is physically healthy, we just need him to make better pitches and start hitting the spots like he's done in the past. I think confidence is a big thing in this game. Right now, we're trying to find a way to get his confidence back.

NeshekRox: Of all the players, who is the biggest prankster? What is the best prank you've seen this year?

Gardenhire: The biggest prankster of all of our players I think probably Mike Redmond and Nick Punto are tied. They like to have a little fun in the clubhouse. They like to mess with the clubhouse kids -- itching powder in their shorts, etc.

punto81286: Hey Gardy, what are the Twins' thoughts on Punto's performance? Is he in danger of losing his job?

Gardenhire: Obviously, we'd like more offense from him. He's played such great defense. Last night, he probably saved three or four runs. His attitude is good. We believe he should be on the field somewhere. Right now, he's starting at third, and we like him. We like the way he plays.

punto81286: Left field has been one of the weak parts of this team. Rondell White can't seem to stay healthy and Jason Kubel, Jason Tyner and Lew Ford aren't consistent. Is this something you think should be addressed at the deadline?

Gardenhire: We have been talking. With Kubel, we have a chance to have a good one. Tyner and Lew are more role players. Obviously, we're looking for a right-handed guy. We are looking for help. We still feel Kubel down the road will be a pretty good hitter. We're looking for a platoon scenario perhaps.

Crouch: If you could pick one person not currently on the team as a designated hitter, who would you ask Terry Ryan to get?

Gardenhire: I can't say specific names, but there are good names out there that we're looking at. We are trying to get some help and Terry is looking at that.

sfgausd: Do the Twins have some prospects in their Minor League system with good power?

Gardenhire: We have some lower Minor League guys that may have a chance to drive the ball as they get more experience. Erik Lis, a left-handed first baseman -- I like him out of Spring Training, the way he swings. Matt Moses -- he hasn't come along as quickly as we'd like, but we're interested in him. The great thing about this game is perhaps two or three will click and end up at the Major Leagues this year.

jayman1980: Do you think in order for the Twins to make it back to the postseason the team will have to make a move to get a power hitter before the trade deadline?

Gardenhire: We've looked at it and we're looking out there, but we don't want to give up all of our top young players to just have a guy for a half a year. Our goal is to get to the playoffs and we have a team here to do that. We need some current guys to step up. But if we find someone who can help get us there, we'll do it.

cclarkey: Last night we trouble getting hits off a lefty. Are you going to doing anything different in tonight's game to combat that?

Gardenhire: Another tough lefty tonight who throws the ball even harder. We're going to try -- maybe put Lew out there. Left-handed hitters don't have much success against him. We'll see how Lew does tonight and we'll go from there. But they're facing Santana. They have more troubles than we do.

elmoman: What's it like to manage such high-caliber players like Santana, Liriano, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Hunter?

Gardenhire: We are very fortunate here. They are good people first and great players. We're lucky here. These guys are a lot of fun, and they make it really easy. They love to play baseball and they treat us very well. It makes it easy for me and my coaching staff.

cclarkey: Did you and Jim Leyland strategize together during the All-Star Game?

Gardenhire: Yes, actually I was standing by him. It was fun to talk to him and listen to his thoughts. He asked me my opinion on things. He's a great manager, and he's been managing a long time. It was fun to be around him and his coaches. Very good time and a great experience.

cjw_55106: Despite his stats at the plate, I think Punto brings a lot to the ballclub that casual fans don't appreciate. What does he mean to your team?

Gardenhire: He's one of the heart and soul guys. He gives everything he has. Our players root for him more than anybody. He plays hard and cares so much. He's a great teammate. He's struggled offensively, but he's still valuable and will be valuable throughout the rest of the season.

cassie_v: I was at TwinsFest and was wondering how your bowling team did?

Gardenhire: Kent Hrbek and myself struggled. Twins team No. 2 did well, and lost in the championship against a team called the Gophers. But it's under review. We feel it wasn't fair.

cjw_55106: Do you think Liriano's progress will have an affect on Santana's future status with the Twins?

Gardenhire: Not really. Everyone is rooting for him to get back and get healthy. He's a great young pitcher with a great arm. Santana is a separate piece of the puzzle. Obviously we want Santana to stay as long as possible, but we are very excited about Liriano as a young pitcher. But these two are two different parts.

cclarkey: Do you think Rick Anderson will be managing a team some day or will the Twins be able to keep him as pitching coach?

Gardenhire: I think Andy likes what he's doing. I've never heard him talk about wanting to manage. I know he loves it here. He bought a home and he loves the area. I would think we could keep him as our pitching coach. He's a good one.

suciu: Would you rather acquire a starting pitcher or a hitter to fill the DH spot or left field?

Gardenhire: Through some of our conversations, pitching is really hard to find. It's more likely that we would be able to find an extra bat. A right-handed power guy, than a starting pitcher. But we're open to just about anything that would help us.

cjw_55106: Jason Bartlett has been a nice surprise since moving to the two spot. Do you think the lineup has helped him, or would you say its more of a mental thing for Jason?

Gardenhire: I think him hitting up there, with Joe behind him and him getting more fast balls and he feels better physically, and is a little more confident. So probably a little bit of all three. Being second in the line up, health and his confidence.

etartin: Does your wife come to many Twins home games? Does she ever travel with you on the road? Does she ever give you advice on what you should do with the team?

Gardenhire: She comes to as many games as she can. Not all of them, but she does travel once in a while. We had a family trip and she's gone to a few cities of her choice. Her advice: stay in the game, and don't get thrown out by the umpires.

punto81286: Who has been your favorite player to manage since you have been with the Twins?

Gardenhire: There are so many. Obviously Torii, Santana, Jacque Jones -- the guys from my first year. And even up through this year. We are so lucky here to have a good bunch of people. It's hard to distinguish one from another or over another. They're good people and a lot of fun.

cclarkey: How much did Tom Kelly influence your coaching? Obviously you like to argue more, but as far as coaching the game?

Gardenhire: When you're working for a manager for 11 years, like I was, I learned what he liked to do and how he did things. He taught me to respect the game and teach the players respect. I like to have him around now. We golf and he comes to Spring Training. He's a good friend, and I like to have him around.

cjw_55106: With all the Torii and Santana talk, I think Alexi Castillo has kind of slid under the radar. Do you think he'll be here for the foreseeable future?

Gardenhire: Well, he's a free agent at the end of the year, and we'll deal with it then. Terry will have to work it out and see how we can spread it around and see where we're at the end of the season. We're happy to have him right now, and that's all I can go by.

einman: What are the chances of Justin being back in Minnesota next year?

Gardenhire: Morneau will be back next year. We are negotiating a long-term deal with him and has a few more years before he's a free agent. He's eligible for arbitration again next year, but we are working to secure a long-term deal with him.

smellem: Can you respond to Dan Gladden's comments about the Twins not being a small market team any more and the need for Terry and the Pohlad's to dig deeper?

Gardenhire: If he wants, he can go to the downtown offices and give them that advice if he'd like. And I wish him luck.

punto81286: Brian Buscher is doing very well. What are your thoughts on him and when do you see him up with the Major League club?

Gardenhire: He's doing very well. I don't know much about him but have read the reports. He's swinging the bat well and his name has definitely come up. I can't guarantee when we'll see him, but he at least has a chance when we need another player.

Moderator: Thank you for participating in our second Web chat. Please check the members-only section of the Web site for a new ticket offer as well as some Twins Territory Team-exclusive content. And, watch for the next Web chat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.