The 162-Game Grind Can Be Tough On Coaches, Too
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The end of a long, painful season for the Minnesota Twins also means some relief for the coaching staff.
The players weren’t the only ones this year with health problems.
The 162-game grind can be rough on the older guys in the dugout too, from the pressure to win to the long days at the ballpark and the travel that makes proper rest, nutrition and exercise difficult to get.
Manager Ron Gardenhire has had his share of health problems over his career, and this year he fought a flulike virus for several weeks. He tries to drink cherry juice for his aching joints.
First base coach Jerry White has dealt with a debilitating knee injury all season. Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek missed spring training and didn’t join the team until late April after surgery to repair a detached retina.
White is also in charge of the outfielders and base-running, and he likes to be as active in pregame drills as he can, whether showing the proper way to break up a double play or shagging flies at the warning track. This season, the 59-year-old former Montreal Expos utility man was unable to do much other than hit fungoes.
He said he hasn’t been able to do much about it, other than limp around.
“Just deal with it, get it fixed and let it heal over the winter. I’ve got to realize I’ve just got to kind of cut back a little. We still think up here that we can do it,” White said, pointing to his head.
Gardenhire has had problems with a rapid heartbeat in the past, and doctors have worked with him to watch his diet and manage his stress. He can still get worked up, and the exasperation of this last-place season hasn’t made it any easier.
“I’ve had my bouts, with the flu bugs and being sick, and I don’t know where it’s all come from, to tell you the truth,” Gardenhire said. “It is a stressful job. We know that. You have a lot on your shoulders and everything. We all handle it differently. I try to remain as calm as I possibly can. I’m an emotional person and I get a little fired up, but I try to keep it within the boundaries of everything and not let it wear you out too often.”
His wife, Carol, serves as the caretaker at home.
“We don’t really do a lot of talking about baseball. We just do our normal things at home. She loves baseball, but we separate it,” he said. “When I leave here, it’s out the window. I go home and try to enjoy my time with her and my kids, and you come back here and you get after it.”
Getting after it is second nature for these guys.
“You just give it all you’ve got and do everything you can do to get these guys prepared,” White said.
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