Mientkiewicz, 43, spent the past five years as a successful manager in the Twins’ farm system. He took four teams to the postseason, including his Class A Advanced Florida State League club this year in Fort Myers, Fla. His FSL title with Fort Myers in 2014 helped him earn a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, where he won a Southern League title the next year. Among the Twins prospects he managed was rising star outfielder Byron Buxton.
Mientkiewicz’s bigger claim to fame, however, came on the field, where he was the Twins’ first baseman on American League Central championship teams in 2002 and ’03 under Gardenhire. He won a World Series with the Red Sox in ’04, catching the final out, then went on to play five more Major League seasons at various stops. He won an AL Gold Glove Award at first base with Minnesota in ’01, and he batted .306 with 39 doubles, 15 home runs and 74 RBIs that season.
Mientkiewicz finished with a .271 average, 899 big league hits, 405 RBIs and a .765 OPS in 1,087 Major League games. He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2000 Olympics.
“After a 12-year Major League playing career, Mientkiewicz has transitioned into a successful manager at the Minor League level, leading his teams to the postseason in four of the last five seasons,” Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said in a release announcing the hire. “We’re confident that Doug will bring his strong player development background and winning mentality with him to Toledo.”
Mientkiewicz’s Toledo ties go back to childhood. He was born in nearby Sylvania, Ohio, and he told the Toledo Blade his parents lived in Point Place for six years before moving to Florida while he was in grade school. He told the newspaper his parents would take him to watch the Toledo Goaldiggers, the local minor league hockey team at the time.
“It’s great to have Doug take over as manager with his vast playing and coaching experience,” Mud Hens executive vice president and general manager Erik Ibsen said. “Plus, with his Toledo roots, he has an instant connection with our community and fans.”
Mientkiewicz played high school baseball in Miami, where he was a teammate of Alex Rodriguez at Westminster Christian. He went on to play college baseball at Florida State.
The Twins did not renew Mientkiewicz’s contract as a Minor League manager at season’s end, making him a free agent. The combination of his local ties, track record and relationship with Gardenhire — with whom he will have a lot of communication on a rebuilding Tigers squad that is expected to have a lot of moves between Detroit and Toledo — made him a natural candidate for the job.
Mientkiewicz will be the fourth Mud Hens manager in as many seasons. He replaces Mike Rojas, who returned to the Tigers’ organization last year to manage in Toledo before he and the Tigers cut ties at season’s end. Lloyd McClendon managed the Hens in 2016 before taking over as Tigers hitting coach. Larry Parrish retired as Hens manager following the ’15 season.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
–Top Twitter To Follow: