Could Lamont succeed Leyland again? 'I'd surely like to. But I don't believe I'll probably get the chance'
DETROIT — There’s going to be a new sheriff in town.
Could it be much the same as the old sheriff? Like maybe his best friend?
While Gene Lamont succeeded Jim Leyland as manager in Pittsburgh, he doesn’t think history will repeat itself here in Detroit.
Lamont may merit consideration for the top job with the Detroit Tigers, now that Leyland’s stepped down from it, but he told MLB Network Radio he doubted that would happen.
“Well, I’d like to manage again, but I’m going to be 67 next year myself, so I don’t know that some team wants to bring in somebody at my age,” Lamont told hosts Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo on the “First Pitch” show Tuesday morning. “I’d surely like to. But I don’t believe I’ll probably get the chance.”
General manager Dave Dombrowski did not rule out any of the Tigers’ internal candidates — Lamont, Tom Brookens or Lloyd McClendon — from possibly being considered candidates either for the top job, or to remain on staff for a new manager. [CLICK HERE for a full list of candidates]
“With some people, I’d be very happy to have on our staff, for sure,” Dombrowski said at Monday’s press conference. “But you have to make sure that when you (hire a) manager that’s mainly their consideration in that regard.”
And he also said he did not necessarily want to change the culture, by bringing in someone who has vastly different philosophies.
That would make a transition from Leyland to one of his key lieutenants make sense — none of the three would probably deviate too much from the way the organization ran in Leyland’s eight seasons.
It also helps that two of those guys have big-league managerial experience.
Following a four-year span where he left Leyland’s Pittsburgh staff to manage the Chicago White Sox (1992-’95), Lamont followed Leyland in the big seat with the Pirates for four seasons (1997-’00). Returning to his spot as Leyland’s right-hand man in 2006, Lamont was a finalist for the Red Sox job that went to Bobby Valentine before last season.
A player for both Leyland and Lamont in Pittsburgh, McClendon was on the coaching staff there with both men, and followed Lamont as the manager for five seasons (2001-’05).
A former Tigers player, Brookens has never managed at the big-league level, he was a manager at three different levels in the Tigers system — Class A Oneonta (2005-’06), Class A West Michigan (2007), and Double-A Erie (2008) — and had, at times, been considered the heir apparent to Leyland.
While Dombrowski did not rule out going after a less-experienced managerial candidate, Lamont at least feels this Tigers team may need a steadier hand on the reins.
“Myself, I think it would be tough on a first-time manager. There are a lot of, I’ll say personalities. It’s a great team. Great players. Sometimes it doesn’t become the easiest team to manage,” Lamont said. “I think somebody that’s probably managed — it would be beneficial I think, to have somebody that’s at least managed in the big leagues for this team.”
If it was someone with less experience, though, Lamont wouldn’t rule out staying on in his present capacity, to lend some wisdom.
“I’d like to stay here as the bench coach again, but that’ll likely determine on who’s named the manager,” he said.
The contracts of all three men — as well as the rest of the coaching staff — expire at the end of the league season on Oct. 31.
Dombrowski said Monday that he hadn’t had much in the way of discussions with any of them.
“I really haven’t handled it at all, because it just happened. That’s some of the stuff I have to do here coming up,” the GM said. “I would never stand in their way of getting another job somewhere else because I don’t think that’s fair and that’s right. Then we’ll just kind of go from there.”
Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for Digital First Media. Read his “Out of Left Field” blog at opoutofleftfield.blogspot.com.