Lamont named bench coach, Brookens to 3rd
Remember that coaching staff shuffle that Jim Leyland hinted at after the World Series but wasn’t ready to announce? The question came back up Tuesday, and they announced it. Gene Lamont will move from third-base coach to bench coach for next season. Tom Brookens moves from first-base coach to third, and infield coach Rafael Belliard takes over first-base duties.
The shift, Leyland emphasized, was not a sign of Lamont’s decision-making, despite the second-guessing Lamont faced for a handful of calls this season. His decision to wave Prince Fielder home in Game 2 of the World Series, in particular, drew scrutiny. To Lamont’s credit, he took responsibility for it at the time, saying he was overly aggressive on the call.
“I can promise you it was not related to that,” Leyland said. “I think Gene Lamont is as good of a third-base coach as anybody in the American League. Terrific judgment. Terrific. But it might be time for him to come over to the bench with me and put Brookie out there.”
The decision, Leyland said, was about getting somebody younger in the role, which a look around the league suggests is increasingly becoming a younger coach’s job.
“This will be another mind for me to bounce something off of,” Leyland said. “But most of it’s because Brookie’s a little sprier right now.”
Lamont and Belliard were the two coaches who had been in the same roles for Leyland’s entire seven-year managerial tenure in Detroit. The other Tigers coach who dates back to Leyland’s first season in 2006, Lloyd McClendon, went from bullpen coach to hitting coach in 2007.
In none of those seasons did Leyland have a bench coach. Lamont essentially filled the role while still coaching at third. When Leyland was ejected from games in recent years, McClendon would take over as manager.