Like rest of Tigers coaches, McClendon waiting
Tom Brookens and Gene Lamont said it yesterday, and Lloyd McClendon repeated it today. Like the rest of the Tigers coaches, McClendon is in limbo, under contract with the Tigers until the end of the month but unsure what will happen beyond that.
McClendon has not heard anything from the Tigers about the managerial opening, but he’d obviously be interested.
“Oh, I think you’d be a fool not to be,” he said.
McClendon was one of three coaches — Lamont and Rafael Belliard are the others — to work with Jim Leyland for all eight seasons in Detroit. He came here coming off a 4 1/2-year stint managing in Pittsburgh that ended late in the 2005 season, and Leyland brought him back looking to keep him involved in the game — first as the bullpen coach in 2006, then as hitting coach for the other seven seasons.
He already had learned a lot playing for Leyland for five seasons, then coaching under Gene Lamont for four more. Coaching for Leyland has strengthened that base, which he hopes to turn into a second chance at managing.
“It’s been a pleasure,” McClendon said. “Obviously when you have an opportunity to work with one of the best in the game, you’d be a fool not to learn something. That has certainly been very beneficial to me. My aspirations are hopefully to manage again, but at the same time you have to be your own man.”
Much of what he has learned sounds like what Leyland has preached, though it’s coming from a different voice.
“I think I already had it,” McClendon said, “but it certainly confirmed my convictions as far as how you go about your business, preparation, knowing your opponents, using that to your advantage, knowing your players, knowing their capabilities, what they’re capable of doing and what they’re not capable of doing, and above all your leadership skills.”
The biggest thing, he said, is to be yourself. Another point sounded familiar: “Be smart enough to stay out of the players’ way.”
Leyland has said more than once over the years that he’d like to see McClendon get another chance to manage somewhere, and he said it again on a local radio station Monday to put in a good word for him and Lamont. When contacted Monday, Lamont made it clear he’d like to manage again, but sounded less than confident he’d get a chance in this case.
If and when the Tigers look in-house at candidates to fill the job, the 54-year-old McClendon is expected to be the strongest candidate, combining previous managerial experience, hands-on work with the current roster and a relatively young age (younger than Lamont or Brookens). There will be questions about the struggles of the offense, as there should, but there will also be a look at hitters he has helped progress.
“I have not heard anything as of yet,” he said.
Like the rest of the coaches, McClendon said he had his suspicions as the season went on that Leyland could retire at the end. Interestingly, though, he said he was hoping an energized Leyland might change his mind once the Tigers returned to the playoffs.
“Obviously there were times during the season where I thought he had enough,” McClendon said, “but I thought he was energized for the playoffs. I was always kind of hoping he’d come back.”