Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire sat down in front of the assembled media Wednesday morning, reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a crinkled sheet of paper.

“Let me get out my roster so I know who we have,” he said, amidst an explosion of laughter. “You think I’m kidding, too.”

He’s not. Gardenhire was hired on Oct. 19 and has since been in what for him must be an excruciating kind of limbo. Since the Tigers are in the initial stages of a full rebuilding project and the roster is in extreme flux, he’s not sure exactly who he’s going to be managing once the team gets to spring training.

So, other than reading scouting reports, looking at video and talking to the team’s front office, medical staff and analytics people, he hasn’t been able to put his hands on his team just yet. He hasn’t yet reached out and tried to contact any of his players.


“I will reach out,” he said. “I decided, rather than call some of the guys like Miguel Cabrera and those guys as soon as I got the job, I said I was going to wait until after these meetings and have a little bit better mindset on what we have here and what we’re trying to do.”

He doesn’t want his first conversation with his players to be empty or misleading. He wants to be able to answer all their questions and to convey exactly what he’s about and what his plans are.

“It’s a process that’s going to take some time here as far as getting to know everybody,” he said. “Spring training is going to be huge, and I will reach out to some of these guys. I don’t think I’ll have a problem. You’re talking about great baseball players.”