Marlins-Twins Preview

MINNEAPOLIS -- He's at Target Field watching the Minnesota Twins battle a team named after Florida fish this week. But when he's not in a ballpark observing the Twins and Miami Marlins, long-time Twins manager Ron Gardenhire admits that he spends a lot of time fishing in Florida.

"I'm fishing a lot. Outside of baseball, I fish," Gardenhire said Wednesday in the Target Field pressbox. "Down in Florida I bought a boat. I traded my pontoon in and my wife nearly killed me, but I got a bigger boat but I've been going out in the ocean catching bigger fish."

Gardenhire, who took the Twins to the postseason six times in his 13 seasons as manager, was re-hired by the club earlier this year to serve as a special assistant to general manager Terry Ryan. He lives year-round near the Twins' Spring Training base in Fort Myers, Fla., but has been traveling plenty in recent weeks, getting first-hand look at the team's minor league prospects.

Minnesota closes out its three-game series versus the Marlins on Thursday and is still trying to climb out of the hole created by their disastrous start that has it sporting the worst record in the American League by a wide margin. The Twins (18-40) send right-hander Ervin Santana (1-5, 4.50 ERA) to the mound to face Miami right-hander Tom Koehler (3-6, 4.50 ERA). And while the Twins current pitching staff has struggled, Gardenhire sees reason for optimism in southwest Florida, home of the organization's Class A team.

"The pitching staff in Fort Myers was phenomenal when I was there," Gardenhire said. "They had six starters and every one of them just threw the living fire out of the ball, so that was fun to watch."

Less fun to watch for the Marlins recently has been slugger Giancarlo Stanton. His second inning hit Wednesday broke a string in which he'd gone 1-for-19 at the plate in June. Despite that, it was announced that he's Miami's leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game.

On Wednesday Marlins manager Don Mattingly said that if he had to designate a Miami All-Star at this time, it would likely be center fielder Marcell Ozuna, who is having a career-best season with his bat. Ozuna is hitting .314 with 11 home runs.

"He underrated because nobody knows about him," Mattingly told MLB.com about Ozuna. "But they will if he continues on."

After Thursday's series conclusion, the Marlins -- in the midst of a nine-game road swing -- visit the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game series in Phoenix over the weekend.

Minnesota stays at home to host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game set at Target Field.

Gardenhire is in town for a ceremony in which the Twins will honor retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz before Friday's game. Ortiz made his major league debut with Minnesota in 1997 and spent six seasons in a Twins uniform.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.