Detroit – Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire took this part of the process, the hiring of his coaching staff, very seriously.
“This is a very important piece of the equation,” he said at his introductory press conference. “You want to surround yourself with people who have your back but also know the game, respect the game and aren’t afraid to state their opinion.”
Two weeks later, his staff is in place. It includes two holdovers from the Tigers’ previous staff, three of Gardenhire’s most-trusted coaches from his days with the Twins and a pitching coach who helped groom the Chicago Cubs championship staff in 2016.
“I’m thrilled about the coaching staff we’ve been able to assemble,” Gardenhire said in a statement. “Collectively, this group has extensive playing and coaching experience at both the major and minor league levels, and has a proven track record of developing young players.”
The two coaches retained from former manager Brad Ausmus’ staff are hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and third base coach Dave Clark.
“Lloyd and Dave, who were both here previously, stood out when looking at the pool of available candidates,” Gardenhire said. “I’m really excited to have them continue to develop our players. Additionally, I’ve worked with many of these coaches before, and I’ve seen firsthand their passion for teaching the game of baseball and seeing it played the right way.
“I’m confident that our time in Detroit will be successful.”
Here is the complete staff:
Bench coach: Steve Liddle, 58. He was on Gardenhire’s staff in Minnesota for 11 years (2002-2010) as bench coach and third base coach. Before that, he spent 12 seasons in the Twins minor league system, managing six seasons at the Single-A level.
Quality control coach: Joe Vavra, 57. He was Paul Molitor’s bench coach in Minnesota the last three seasons. Before that, he was Gardenhire’s third base coach and hitting coach from 2006-2014. He coached in the Dodgers system for 13 seasons before joining the Twins.
Pitching coach: Chris Bosio, 54. He was the Cubs pitching coach the last six seasons. In 2015, his staff posted the lowest ERA, opponent OPS and batting average in Major League baseball. A former big-league pitcher (who threw a no-hitter in 1993), he has also coached in the Mariners, Rays, Reds and Brewers organizations.
Hitting coach: McClendon, 58. Former manager of the Pirates and Mariners, McClendon is in his second stint with the Tigers having been on Jim Leyland’s staff from 2006-2013. After managing Triple-A Toledo in 2016, he was hired as the team’s hitting coach last season.
Assistant hitting coach: Phil Clark, 49. He was the hitting coach at Single-A West Michigan in 2015 and at Double-A Erie the last two seasons. He has worked with most of the club’s top hitting prospects, including Christin Stewart, who led the Eastern League with 28 home runs, 60 extra-base hits and 243 total bases last season. After a 15-year playing career (he was a first-round pick of the Tigers in 1986), he coached in the Indians system for eight seasons.
Bullpen coach: Rick Anderson, 60. He was Gardenhire’s pitching coach in Minnesota from 2002-14. Among his many accomplishments in Minnesota, he helped develop Johan Santana, who won two Cy Young Awards under Anderson.
First base coach and infield instructor: Ramon Santiago, 38. This will be his first coaching job after completing a 16-year playing career, 10 of those seasons spent with the Tigers. He replaces Omar Vizquel.
Third base coach and outfield instructor: Dave Clark, 55, returns to the post he’s held the last four seasons in Detroit. He spent the five previous seasons with the Astros.