OAKLAND -- Thirty-five years after playing his final game with the A's, Phil Garner returned to Oakland on Friday as a special advisor to manager Bob Melvin and the entire organization.

Garner managed for 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, spending time with the Brewers, Tigers and Astros. Melvin served as Garner's bench coach in 1999 in Milwaukee and 2000 in Detroit, and he credits him for his path to becoming a big league manager.

"He gave me my start," Melvin said before Friday night's game against Texas. "I learned to manage from him. We played together in San Francisco. Between he and [former A's third baseman] Sal Bando, who was the GM in Milwaukee at the time, they gave me my start and the opportunity and I learned so much from both of those guys. I owe them a lot.

"So to have a guy who has not only played in the World Series but managed in the World Series, it's another resource to have in this organization. It's a resource for the players, a resource for me, the coaches, the front office."

Melvin said he and A's general manager Billy Beane had been discussing the idea of hiring Garner for three or four weeks. It was Melvin who broached that possibility with Garner, who was retired and living in a suburb of Houston. Garner said it didn't take him long to say yes.

"Bo was my right-hand man for a number of years in Milwaukee and Detroit, did a tremendous job," Garner said. "We got along great. It was great when he called me and said, 'I want to run something by you.'"

Garner said that during part of his managerial career, former big league manager Chuck Tanner had a similar role for him.

"I hope I can do for Bo what Chuck Tanner did for me," Garner said. "Chuck was a great confidante, was great for the players, great for the staff. He was definitely the most optimistic person in the world."

Garner said it was easy to clear his schedule and get to Oakland.

"I don't have a whole lot I'm doing these days," Garner said, laughing. "I'm enjoying life, and I'm real good at doing nothing. I'm a real good grandpa. I work on my golf game and tennis game."

At this point, Garner's commitment with the A's lasts through the end of this season. He expects to attend most of the A's home games, spending time in uniform on the field during pregame work but watching games from the stands.

Garner last managed in 2007 with the Houston Astros. He said he doesn't expect to return to managing but hasn't ruled it out.

"I don't know if I'm old enough to come back and manage," joked Garner, who played the first four years of his 16-year Major League career with the A's, from 1973-76. "Jack McKeon has set the bar high. You never say never, but right now I want to help Bo."