Q&A: Doug Mientkiewicz
Interview by Wally Langfellow
Twins' first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz
We caught up with Minnesota Twins' first baseman and Gold Glove winner Doug Mientkiewicz, who takes a position on everything from contraction to getting dirty in the grass to winning the division.
MS: What's been more frustrating; not knowing if the Twins were going to exist, or the uncertainty of where you personally might end up?
DM: I felt that most of us would find jobs. The fact that we couldn't play together again and that we finally got this thing going in the right direction was tough. If they did contract us, we weren't going to be able to play with Torii and Corey and Jacque and all those guys together again. That was the hardest part for us.
MS: Having such a good season last year must have made the whole contraction issue an even tougher pill to swallow.
DM: If anything, we gave ourselves some time. I think if they tried to do it the year before they would have thought, 'who cares, it's fine.' Then we had the season we had last year, and they were saying 'why are you going to contract a team that contended for 5 out of 6 months?' They say timing is everything- we picked the best time to have the best season in a long time.
MS: What do you think of Bud Selig?
DM: (chuckles)....From a player's standpoint [from one] of the contracting teams, he's not the most favorable person in my life right now. I also understand that he has a job to do, to try and make baseball better. I think his way of doing it is wrong. I think there's other ways around it. But, I 'm a big stand-up guy, I think if you screw up you need to stand up and say you screwed up and if he does that, then I'll live with it.
MS: What about Carl Pohlad?
DM: I think it's the same situation, he's got a job to do. He's got to supposedly look out for his family. If he wants his money, he should sell [Twins] it to another owner and do whatever he can to help us out. I know that the Pohlad family has helped the Twins out a lot, but I also understand the Twins have helped out the Pohlad family. You pat each other on the back. If he doesn't want the team anymore, he should sell it to somebody who does.
MS: Does it upset you that Terry Ryan has been hamstrung by contraction and has been unable to make any major moves?
DM: That's the hardest part, he couldn't be GM. We're not the only ones in this situation, the Marlins are in the same predicament we are. And the Expos, I don't see them making many moves either. Florida is right onthe verge of being a very good team, they only need a few more pieces.
MS: The one thing the team did do in the off-season was hire Ron Gardenhire to replace Tom Kelly. What do you think of Gardy?
DM: I think that Gardy is one of the better people in baseball. I tell my wife all the time that the hardest part to having Gardy as manager is the fact that we lose him as a third base coach. I think he's the best third base coach in the big leagues. Obviously you want to be a manager over a third base coach, and Gardy has put in his time, he's well-liked by the players. I think it's a good change of pace.
MS: Describe the difference in playing in one of the new retro-parks, like Jacobs Field or Arlington, as compared to the Metrodome.
DM: The Dome is a miserable, miserable atmosphere. I just don't like playing inside. I 'm an old bad guy who likes to get dirty with grass and everything. But, I also understand from our fans' standpoint, they spend six months inside, the last thing they want to do on a nice summer night is watch baseball indoors. Especially when we're not playing that well. The Dome is not a fun place to play inside, but on the other hand, we have one distinct advantage: the noise. If that place is packed and it's loud, it's a really tough place to play, but we're used to it. I can't imagine what it's like at Vikings games, I haven't been to one. The Dome is crazy when there's a lot of people in there, it's definitely a tough place to play for visiting teams.
MS: Do the Twins have the pieces to win the division, or better yet, a World Series?
DM: There's no doubt in my mind that we definitely have the team to fight for the division, but we have to stay healthy. For so many years, people looked at the Central as a one-team (Cleveland) division, and I think they might fall to 3 or 4. Yeah, they still have Thome and all those guys, but the team to watch is the White Sox. You look at their team from 1 through 9 and they've got 20 to 25 homerun guys with a couple 30 homerun guys in there. They've got young pitchers coming out of every which way and they've got really good young arms. To me, they're the favorites in our division. Look at Detroit, they've gotten a lot better and Kansas City is trying to get better. I think it's just definitely between us, Cleveland and Chicago. But, I don't think Cleveland is going to be our problem this year.
MS: What's up with Corey Koskie saying he'll donate one percent of his salary toward a new Twins stadium?
DM: We tried that with a weight room, and we're going to try that with a stadium too, I guess. We're doing everything we can do to try and keep the team in Minnesota, we enjoy it there. We want to stick together and we're willing to do anything. We tried to give some of our salaries so we can get a weight room in the Metrodome. We don't have a weight room there. We go to other parks and they've got million dollar weight rooms. We're not asking for a million dollar weight room, we just want room where we don't have to elbow each other when we go in. We're trying to do everything we can to stick around.