By Greg Johns
SEATTLE – Lloyd McClendon, who spent the past seven years as the Tigers’ hitting coach, was named the next manager of the Mariners on Tuesday night.
The club made the hire official not long after a Major League source confirmed a report initially tweeted by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
General manager Jack Zduriencik just concluded talks with five finalists to replace Eric Wedge, with McClendon among the group brought to Seattle for a second interview.
McClendon, 54, was the only candidate with previous Major League managing experience, having led the Pirates from 2001-05.
McClendon had a 336-446 record when Pittsburgh was in the middle of a 20-year run of losing seasons, then was immediately hired by Jim Leyland in Detroit and was regarded as a big part of the Tigers’ success as they reached the American League Championship Series four times and the World Series twice during his eight years.
McClendon interviewed with the Mariners in 2010, when they hired Wedge, and he was under consideration to replace Leyland this past week for the Tigers, who instead named former catcher Brad Ausmus as their new skipper on Sunday.
The other Mariners finalists were A’s bench coach Chip Hale, Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, former Mariners second baseman and longtime White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach.
McClendon becomes the 19th manager in Mariners history, including three interim skippers, since the franchise was formed in 1977. Since Lou Piniella resigned following the 2002 season, the club has had seven managers — Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, Jim Riggleman, Don Wakamatsu, interim skipper Daren Brown and Wedge — and none posted a winning record during his tenure.
Wedge stepped down after going 71-91 in his third season at the helm, citing differences of opinion with club management.
McClendon is a veteran of 33 years in professional baseball, including 16 years as a player after being selected in the eighth round of the 1980 Draft by the Mets as a catcher out of Valparaiso University. He converted to an outfielder/first baseman in the Majors and spent eight seasons with the Reds, Cubs and Pirates from 1987-94 while batting .244 in 570 games.
The native of Gary, Ind., began his coaching career as the Pirates’ roving Minor League hitting instructor in 1996, then was promoted to the Pirates’ Major League hitting coach job from 1997-2000 before becoming manager in 2001.
After his five years as the Pirates’ skipper, McClendon joined Leyland’s staff in Detroit as bullpen coach for one year, then hitting instructor the past seven years.