April 18, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins have hired former manager Ron Gardenhire as a special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan.

The team announced Gardenhire's return on Monday. His responsibilities include traveling to all minor league affiliates as an instructor and evaluator.

''He's got a lot of experience in evaluating,'' Ryan said. ''He's got a lot of experience teaching. He certainly can mentor the managers and coaches to some extent, or whatever needs to be done. There's a lot of value. He's done about everything you need to do in the game. So he'll be involved in the minor leagues quite a bit. He'll be up here on occasion.''

The Twins fired Gardenhire in 2014 after Minnesota finished that season 70-92. He spent 27 years in the Twins organization, including 13 as manager.

''It was one of those things I was kind of biding my time and I had other offers from other ballclubs, and I was just trying to figure out what it was,'' Gardenhire said. ''They wanted me back. It was a good fit, and I could help out.''

Ryan and Gardenhire maintained a good relationship. When Gardenhire missed out on other managerial openings, Ryan approached him about coming back to the organization.

Gardenhire was considered for a position with San Diego this offseason which Gardenhire said was ''close.'' The Padres hired Andy Green for their managerial opening.

Gardenhire has already been on the field with Minnesota's minor leaguers in Ft. Myers, Florida.

''I just miss being at the ballpark,'' Gardenhire said. ''I just miss being in uniform and hanging out with the people. This has given me the opportunity to get out and do those things.''

As manager, Gardenhire led the Twins to a record of 1,068-1,038, or .507, and is second only to Tom Kelly on the Twins' managerial wins list. He was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010 and guided the Twins to six American League Central Division titles, including an ALCS appearance in 2002.

''He knows how to evaluate and he knows our system, and he knows our grading scale, and he knows the people within,'' Ryan said. ''There's a lot of familiarity still even though he's been gone for a couple years. The history and tradition and all that, that's fine. But he also knows basically the philosophy that we haven't strayed too far from.''

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