His loyalty unreturned by Tigers, McClendon gets consolation in Mariners job
DETROIT — Like good deeds, which — as the saying goes — rarely go unpunished, loyalty quite often goes unreturned.
Even if it’s merely an appearance, or an unintended consequence of the world in which we live.
All being a good soldier for seven years on the coaching staff of Jim Leyland netted for hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was an interview — which both sides thought went well — for a chance to be Leyland’s successor, and then the unfortunate slap in the face of finding out he didn’t get the job when the news leaked Saturday night.
That was hours before general manager Dave Dombrowski was able to place a call to McClendon himself, letting him know that the Tigers’ managerial position had gone to Brad Ausmus instead.
“I couldn’t help (Saturday) night. I don’t know what happened. That (leak) wasn’t from us. I don’t know where that came from. I had to wait this morning to start calling people, until it was late enough where I wasn’t waking them up,” said Dombrowski, who was apologetic for the completely unintended sequence of events.
“It’s hard. He’s been with the organization a long time. He interviewed very well. Presented himself well. I like him personally. He’s done a lot for us. I just told him we were going in a different direction, with somebody I thought would do a real good job for us.”
For McClendon, there’s at least a consolation prize.
The news came Tuesday night that he will be named the new manager of the Seattle Mariners. He’d interviewed for the job three years earlier, when it went instead to Eric Wedge. It will be his second managerial stint in the big leagues, after spending five seasons as the Pirates’ manager, prior to his eight-year stint in Detroit on Leyland’s staff.
“He has integrity, he’s well-respected, so I’d recommend him very highly. And I like Lloyd McClendon a lot, I’ve gotten to know him very well,” Dombrowski said Sunday. “Very, very nice person. Good person.”
After starting as the bullpen coach in 2006, McClendon had been the Tigers’ hitting coach since. Under his tutelage, Tigers hitters captured four American League batting titles (2007, 2011-13) and one runner-up finish (2010) in McClendon’s seven seasons as hitting coach.
Add that role to the list of jobs that Ausmus still needs to fill on his staff. So far, only bench coach Gene Lamont is a definite holdover from Leyland’s staff.
For that, at least, Leyland himself is happy.
He may — out of loyalty — have wanted the search for his successor to turn out differently. At one point, Dombrowski trimmed him out of the loop, already knowing Leyland’s feelings on the issue.
“I spoke to Jim (Sunday) morning. Jim has always known about Brad, because he knows Gene Lamont so well,” Dombrowski said.
“I talked to Jim when we were driving to dinner with Brad, which would’ve been Monday. I did not call him anymore, because I did not want to put him on the spot. He loves Mac — and he should love Mac — because he worked for him. And I love Mac. But Jim has even more affinity for him, because he worked with him, day-in and day-out. And I didn’t think it would be fair to ask him any other questions in that regard. And he made it clear he wouldn’t feel he’d be slighted if we didn’t reach out to him in that regard. Today when I spoke to him, he said he was very happy for him, he’s happy for Gene that he’s back, and said ‘I’ll help him, however I can.’ He’s a resource.”