By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will not have input on his replacement unless he is asked for his opinion, and he is happy to leave the selection in the hands of general manager Dave Dombrowski.
Two current Tigers coaches have been speculated to be possible candidates for the job. While Leyland says both hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and bench coach Gene Lamont could be big-league managers – as they have been in the past – Leyland puts the evaluation of whether they meet the criteria for the Tigers job firmly in the hands of Dombrowski.
“I’m not going to speak about the managerial candidates because that’s Dave Dombrowski’s baby, and I don’t want to get involved,” Leyland said to Valenti and Foster of 97.1 The Ticket. “I can tell you that both Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon have managed in the big leagues, they’ve been soldiers of mine for the last few years, and I can tell you that they’re both – both – very capable of managing a major league baseball team.”
“What people have to understand is, Who is the right guy for the Tiger job right now?” Leyland continued. “That’s what people have to understand, and that’s what Dave will have to sort out. There’s a lot of guys that could manage this team, but are they really the right guy for this team? There’s a difference. This is a little bit of a different team. I’m sure that Dave is going to do a thorough search. I definitely believe that he’ll come up with the right guy, and if it’s one of those guys, I would be thrilled to death.”
Both McClendon and Lamont have been with Leyland in Detroit since the beginning of Leyland’s tenure eight years ago. They both served coaching stints under Leyland with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and both eventually spent several seasons as manager in Pittsburgh before rejoining Leyland in Detroit.
In 11 years under Leyland, the Pirates made it to the postseason three times, making it to the NLCS in three consecutive seasons. Under McClendon (2001-2005) and Lamont (1997-2000), Pittsburgh never advanced to the playoffs. While the manager is hardly the only factor – or even the deciding factor – in a team’s success, track records do get consideration.
McClendon joined Leyland’s Detroit staff as a Detroit’s bullpen coach in 2006 and spent the next seven seasons as hitting coach. Lamont began his Tigers career as third base coach, a position he also filled for the Boston Red Sox, the Houston Astros and the Pirates. Lamont also managed the Chicago White Sox from 1992 to 1995, and the team made the playoffs once in that tenure, advancing to the ALCS and losing four games to two.
Dombrowski said at Leyland’s retirement press conference that it is too early to rule out any possible candidates for the job, so Lamont and McClendon may well be in the running, but more than likely, so are many others.