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Lloyd McClendon named Mariners’ new manager

By Shannon Drayer

After numerous outside confirmations of the initial report from the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Mariners have announced that they have hired Lloyd McClendon to be their next manager.

M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik said new skipper Lloyd McClendon is “a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked.” (AP)

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to manage the Seattle Mariners,” McClendon said in the club’s press release. “Seattle has a tremendous group of talented players and the fans and city should be excited about the club’s future. I’m looking for this group to take a big step forward.”

With McClendon, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik bucks the trend of hiring a manager with no big-league managerial experience as McClendon managed the Pirates from 2001-2005. Since then he has coached under Jim Leyland with the Tigers, handling the hitting-coach duties since 2007. The association with Leyland was something that appealed to Zduriencik.

“Lloyd is a bright and articulate guy,” Zduriencik said in the press release. “He has Major League managerial experience and has served in a vital capacity in Detroit under one of the game’s best managers. He is a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked. We look forward to Lloyd embracing our players as we move the Mariners forward.”

McClendon was a finalist both for the recent managerial opening in Detroit and for the Mariners job that eventually went to Eric Wedge in 2010. Zduriencik had familiarity with McClendon, whose time as a player with Pittsburgh overlapped Zduriencik’s tenure there as director of scouting.

McClendon is a so-called baseball lifer, having transitioned straight into coaching after an eight-year playing career. While in Detroit, he was seen as the right-hand man to Leyland (who did not have a bench coach until last year). He is well regarded within the game and many are happy to see him get another opportunity to manage in the big leagues.

As a manager he was known as a fiery competitor who often was at odds with the umpires. It is said that he has mellowed considerably in this regard since. Despite this, those who know him say to expect him to bring an element of toughness to the team.

Heading into the manager search, Zduriencik said that he was looking for someone who would be a teacher first and foremost. McClendon’s most recent experience comes with a veteran club but it appeared there was plenty of teaching going on. When we visited Detroit in September there was the impressive sight of the Tigers on the field for early work three of the four days we were there. Popup drills, infield practice, bunting drills and baserunning work were all things we witnessed before batting practice – with a veteran club. There was a considerable amount of work put into the fundamentals.

Other finalists for the position included Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, Athletics bench coach Chip Hale, former White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach.

A press conference to introduce McClendon will be held Thursday.

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