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Benched: Ron Gardenhire talks life without baseball and what he thinks the Tigers will look like when they return

DETROIT – Ron Gardenhire is spending this time “on the bench” in Florida with his wife Carol. He said he found out that baseball was suspending all operations during a Spring Training game.

“I was sitting in the dugout, we were playing a spring training game,” Gardenhire said. “One of the security guards came over and showed me a text message that baseball was going to be canceled. That’s how I found out, by a guard in the dugout.”

Gardenhire said this time is different than anything he’s ever experienced as a player or a manager.

“I remember a year we went on strike in the 1980s when I was a player, they said go home,” he said. “That was weird. The events surrounding 9-11, the world was a mess. We were off for a week or so. This is totally different. It’s really crazy.”

Gardenhire said Al Avila and the Tigers front office continues to keep him informed of anything they find out and he tries to keep in touch with his players.

“I sent out texts to the players the other day, a mass text to all of them,” he said. “Everyone wants answers, but there are no answers. I tell them to take care of themselves and their family.”

As far as staying busy, Gardenhire said he is not a ‘Netflix’ guy, he’s more of a Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal kind of guy.

“I do a little fishing, I have a boat in my backyard,” he said. “I took it out 50 miles in the Gulf and didn’t catch anything. Even the fish aren’t biting. I do love it down here. It’s really calm. I had the grand babies down here last week. Then they went back to Oklahoma. I’m driving my wife crazy. She has no clue what to do with me. I think she can’t wait for baseball season."

When that season does begin, whenever that is, we asked him about his lineup. He said all he knows is Miguel Cabrera will bat third.

“I can say him batting at third is the easiest thing in my life right now,” Gardenhire said. “He was batting well and swinging well. I texted him and sent me a bunch of thumbs ups”

Gardenhire said a healthy Miguel Cabrera is the first indication that this year’s team will be better than the last.

“He came into spring training really healthy,” Gardenhire said of Cabrera. “The ball was jumping off his bat. That’s a huge help to this baseball team.”

The second indication of a better baseball team than the one that lost 114 games last season, Gardenhire said is the addition of veteran infielders.

“We have a big first baseman and a big second baseman who can drive it out of the park,” Gardenhire said of CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop. “We were killing it in Spring training. Croney and Schooper, two vets to go with Cabrera, we actually have some depth in our lineup.”

The third indication is the Tigers youth and farm system.

“I like them all, they’re all studs,” Gardenhire said. “Goodness gracious Tarik Skubal really impressed and Casey Mize too. Wow, they are pretty impressive and exciting.”

Plus, Gardenhire said Michael Fulmer has been working out every day in Lakeland. This time off could be good for a guy like that to be ready for when the season begins.

You could tell the Tigers manager was fired up for baseball and for sports to start again. When that happens, he’s expecting an electric atmosphere.

“It will be a party, a big-time party for all involved,” he said. “I miss hockey, I miss basketball. I mean college basketball is always great during Spring Training. It’s going to be huge when we all get out there playing. Fans need this. We all need this. The United States needs this. Sports is a big deal. It brings people together and it makes us smile, so we all need this.

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