Tim Wallach, 56, played for the Montreal Expos when Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski was the general manager of that National League team. (Christian Petersen / Getty Images)
Detroit – Tim Wallach has the managerial experience —albeit in the minor leagues — and a long-standing relationship with Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski, not to mention a few years spent around some high-profile athletes out in Los Angeles.
Put together, it makes plenty of sense he’d be on the Tigers’ short list of candidates to replace the retired Jim Leyland.
He was in town Thursday for dinner with Dombrowski, then the two sat down for a formal interview Friday.
“I don’t want to talk about what was talked about, but you feel like it went well,” Wallach, the Dodgers third-base coach, told The Detroit News in a phone conversation Saturday afternoon. “I enjoyed meeting with him. I’ve known Dave for a long time.”
Wallach, 56, was the second candidate interviewed by Dombrowski, following Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon on Thursday.
Wallach spent two successful seasons managing the Dodgers’ Triple A affiliate, in Albuquerque, before joining the major-league staff in 2011.
Both of the jobs, he said, have greatly prepared him to become a big league skipper.
“Being the one in charge of 25 games in Triple A is experience you can’t replace,” he said. “But also being around, like you said, some high-profile guys in L.A., just seeing how you interact with all those guys and how that works, certainly is beneficial, as well.”
Leyland retired on Monday, and Wallach heard Tuesday from Dodgers GM Ned Colletti that the Tigers had interest.
This was his fourth time being up for managerial openings, following interviews over the years with San Diego, Milwaukee and, last year, Boston. He was reportedly finished runner-up to John Farrell.
Wallach came up empty, technically, those three times – though the experience of interviewing hasn’t hurt, that’s for sure.
“No question that going through the process is certainly beneficial,” he said. “It gives you a little idea of what teams want to know. There’s always something different with each club, things that are important to them, but the more you go through it (it helps).”
Wallach played 17 seasons in the majors, and was a five-time All-Star at third base.
Most of his career was spent with the Montreal Expos, which is where he got to know Dombrowski in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. Dombrowski was just a pup GM.
They’ve kept in touch a bit over the years, and working with Dombrowski again is definitely something that appeals to Wallach.
“He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for,” Wallach said.
Wallach’s coaching career has been spent entirely with the Dodgers organization, which also is where he spent most of his last four seasons as a player.
He was hitting coach from 2004-05 under Grady Little, then managed the Albuquerque Isotopes from 2009-10 before joining first-year manager Don Mattingly’s staff. From 2006-08, the married father of three took a break from the game to spend time at home.
Wallach is a relatively unknown to Tigers fans. Asked to describe his managerial style, Wallach laughed and said, “Now you sound like my interview.”
“I am who I am,” he said. “I handle things the way I think they need to be handled. I would say I communicate well. I’m honest. One thing I know, if you’re not honest with your players, it’s not gonna work out very well. First and foremost, communicate with them and tell them the truth.
“Guys may not like the truth at the time, but they certainly appreciate that.”
Wallach is blunt: He doesn’t know any of the Tigers players well – other than the obvious, the team is loaded with talent.
There are three managerial vacancies left – the Cubs, Mariners and Tigers. The Reds (Bryan Price) and Nationals (Matt Williams) have made their hires.
The Tigers gig, though, stands out the most, given the talent and expectations. They’ve been to the American League Championship Series each of the last three seasons.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Wallach, “with the ballclub that they have. It’s pretty well established that they’re one of the better teams, not only in the American League but in baseball. It is about as good an opportunity as you could possible ask for.”