By Brent Stecker
Even in just his first few days on the job, new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has shown that he’s a no-nonsense authority figure who commands respect. Just ask the reporters whose questions were summarily dismissed at his introductory press conference Thursday because he felt they didn’t necessitate an answer.
Nobody should be surprised with McClendon’s demeanor considering what he’s most well-known for – a tirade from his days as the Pirates’ manager when he pulled first base out of the infield and hauled it off the field in protest of an ejection (it’s usually ranked somewhere on lists of best manager meltdowns).
To his credit, McClendon knows his reputation precedes him, and he has a sense of humor about it.
“We’ll just take up a collection basket for me so I can pay some of those fines,” he joked with 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” on Friday. “That base in Pittsburgh, it cost me a lot of money. I was broke, but I got a lot of mileage out of it.”
It’s pretty easy to see where McClendon’s tough-as-nails demeanor comes from with a quick look at his upbringing. He grew up in the 1960s and 70s in Gary, Ind., a steel mill town only 30 minutes outside Chicago. He is one of 13 children and the youngest of nine boys.
“I got my ass kicked every day,” he said Thursday in reference to being the youngest brother.
Growing up tough helped McClendon become an eight-year MLB veteran and manager Jim Leyland’s right-hand man as a coach for eight years with the Tigers. It also helped him stay focused on landing a second chance as a big-league manager despite years of being passed over by teams, including the Mariners when they hired Eric Wedge three years ago.
“I’m the type of the guy that, look, I’ll get up off the mat. You knock me down, I’ll get up,” McClendon said. “I’ll charge over the hill, and maybe charge over the hill and maybe not know what’s coming. But in the end, you gotta believe in what you believe in.”
And now that he’s here, he has clear-cut expectations for the Mariners.
“My expectations for my club are simple. I would hope that they take on my personality. Their work ethic, their character and their intensity would be a reflection of me. I don’t ever ask a club to go out and win on any particular night, but I do ask them to prepare to win every night,” he said. “We’ll be ready from a mental and physical standpoint to go out and do battle. I don’t fear any club. Bring them all on.”