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Gardenhire will return to guide Twins

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ron Gardenhire isn’t going anywhere.

Gardenhire will be back with the Minnesota Twins next season, a team official with knowledge of the decision said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Twins had not made an official announcement ahead of an afternoon news conference.

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Gardenhire is in the final year of his contract and his 12 years with the Twins make him the second-longest tenured manager in the big leagues.

With three straight seasons of at least 93 losses, Gardenhire’s job was considered to be in jeopardy. The highly respected manager figured to have other suitors waiting for him if he became a free agent, but the Twins made sure that didn’t happen, keeping with their longstanding preference for stability at the top.

Gardenhire took over for the retired Tom Kelly in 2002, just when the young Twins were poised to make their move after years of miserable rebuilding. He led the team to the division title in his first three seasons, took them to the ALCS in his first year and was named AL manager of the year in 2010.

Once one of the most popular figures in town thanks to a gregarious personality and impressive run of six ALCS titles in nine years, Gardenhire started to hear some grumbling from the Twins fan base in recent seasons. The Twins have been swept out of their last three appearances in the ALDS and have been nowhere close to competing over the last three years. But even after spending this season as a lame-duck manager, Gardenhire made it clear he wanted to return.

“I like where I’m at,” Gardenhire said before the Twins’ final game of the season Sunday. “I’d rather be here.”

Gardenhire met with GM Terry Ryan on Sunday to discuss the direction of the team and the state of the organization in general as the two of them often do during a season. Gardenhire is 998-947 in his 12 seasons, but just 195-291 over the last three years. In bringing him back, Ryan is sending a message that the problem lies much more with the talent on the field, and particularly on the mound, than in the dugout.

“We have struggled. I’m the one who has given him the players, and I understand that,” Ryan said last week. “We’ve got to have the talent for any manager or coach to succeed. But we know where we are and I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of where we are going, and I’m trying to take a lot of responsibility for what’s going on with this record. I’m not pretending that he’s got the most talented roster we have ever seen him have, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

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