Seattle — As you might expect, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was looking forward to this series against the Tigers, for whom he coached eight years.
And whom he thought, after Jim Leyland retired, that he had excellent chance to manage — before the Tigers were wowed by Brad Ausmus instead.
“It’ll be fun to see people I consider family,” McClendon said in advance of the three-game series. “That’s always going to be special. I’m excited, but I’m going to be trying to kick their butts.”
So what you have in this three-game series is a matchup between the candidates who finished first and second last year for Leyland’s vacant job.
Asked if he were aware when interviewing for the Tigers’ job that McClendon was his chief competition, Ausmus said, “I knew his name was there, but you don’t get overly concerned with (other candidates).”
Ausmus said he didn’t spend those days calculating the chances that he would be the one getting the job.
“I lived my life,” Ausmus said. “I went about my business. I’d drop my kids off at school — maybe went surfing.”
And then the call came that he had gotten the job.
At the same time, McClendon was informed he hadn’t.
It did not take long, however, for McClendon to be hired by the Mariners — after finishing second twice for the same job.
“I had a fabulous time in Detroit,” McClendon said. “Eight wonderful years. Obviously we had a lot of success there — went to the playoffs and the World Series. It’s a tremendous organization.”
And a team he almost managed.
But only almost.
Rajai Davis was back in the Tigers lineup Friday, his bruised left shoulder feeling better.
“The only concern,” Ausmus said, “would be a headfirst slide, because his left arm would get over his head on that kind of slide. So there’s a chance he will just slide feet first.”
That’s the way Ausmus always slid: “I could only slide feet first. Every time I tried to slide headfirst, I just ended up dragging my face across the dirt. So eventually I just stopped.
“But some guys are so accustomed to sliding headfirst, they can’t slide feet first. You also see it going back to first base. Some guys dive. Some guys have to go standing up.”
Why so late?
Any time the manager meets with the media later than usual, it is cause for attention.
And when his door is closed for much of the time that his schedule is later than usual, it’s even more cause for attention.
So it had to be asked of Ausmus why the usual sessions were put off for so long.
“Because Omar lives in Seattle and he hadn’t been home for three months,” Ausmus said of coach Omar Vizquel. “We began everything later than usual, so he could spend more time at home.
Around the horn
Miguel Cabrera’s home run in the third inning on Friday night was his 236th as a Tiger — just three short of tying Rudy York for seventh on the all-time Tigers’ list and just 10 short of passing Cecil Fielder for fifth.