Lamont: Bench coach move was mutual decision
Gene Lamont has been a third-base coach for close to two decades in baseball. He couldn’t do it anymore, because the condition of his knees wouldn’t allow it.
Lamont told MLB.com in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon that he went to manager Jim Leyland in August and said he’d welcome a move to bench coach. After getting hit by a foul ball during the season and having several other close calls, he wasn’t sure he had the reactions he needed to dodge them anymore.
“I can’t get out of the way as soon as I could [before],” Lamont said. “I got a knot in my left knee. I just can’t move as well.”
Leyland and the club agreed and made the move after the season. The Tigers announced the move on Tuesday, including Tom Brookens’ move to third base coach and Rafael Belliard’s shift to coach at first base.
Lamont, a former catcher who came up through the Tigers organization after being the Tigers’ first draft pick in 1965, has a history of knee issues. Those concerns, plus his age, have limited his mobility.
“I did it for a long time, 18, 19 years,” he said.
Leyland referenced the knee issues when he talked again about the move with reporters Wednesday afternoon, this time with the national media.
“To be honest with you, he’s had a knee operation before,” Leyland said. “Sometimes it flares up on him a little bit. We just thought we’d take a little stress off that. He’s a great baseball mind. He’ll be really good for me as well on the bench.
“Brookens [is] a little bit younger. Put him over at third, make him a little more active. Gene’s knee gets a little sore. It bothers him sometimes. He puts pads on them every night. So it’s getting where they bone on bone a little bit, and it’s a little bit tough for him.”