Lloyd McClendon is Tigers' new bench coach; Ramon Santiago, Dave Clark swap base assignments

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Lloyd McClendon, left, will be the Tigers' new bench coach.

Detroit — Manager Ron Gardenhire said it on Sunday — when you lose 114 games in a season, there's going to be changes made.

“Al (Avila, general manager) and I have had good conversations and I know this for a fact, he gets it. He understands it,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been in baseball a long time. But he’s not just going to say, ‘I think you guys did great.’

“We lost one hundred and — I can’t even say the number — and that’s not been fun. And we all take a little of it on ourselves."

Changes were made, for sure, but there will only be one new face on the staff. Steve Liddle, who served as Gardenhire's bench coach for 10 years in Minnesota, will retire after two years in the same role in Detroit.

Joe Vavra, who was Gardenhire's hitting coach in Minnesota from 2005-2012, will move into that role with the Tigers next season. He had been serving as the quality control coach.  

Avila said he had already begun the search for a new quality control coach. 

Lloyd McClendon, who had been the hitting coach under Gardenhire the last two seasons and under former manager Brad Ausmus in 2017, will replace Liddle as the bench coach.

McClendon has managerial experience with the Pirates (2001-2005) and Mariners (2014-2015), so he's well-suited for the new role.

Phil Clark will remain on staff as the assistant hitting coach.  

Having a fresh voice for the hitters was mandatory after the Tigers just completed one of their worst offensive seasons in their history, batting .240 as a team with a .682 OPS and just 149 home runs. They struck out 1,595 times, most in major-league history.

Vavra was the Twins' hitting coach for much of Gardenhire's tenure, though, and consistently ranked among the best offensive teams in the American League.

There's one more slight shuffle on staff, announced by the Tigers on Monday: Ramon Santiago will become the new third-base coach, and Dave Clark the first-base coach. They had been coaching at the other bases.

The Tigers had 53 runners thrown out on the bases last season (not counting caught stealing) and 17 were thrown out at the plate.

The pitching side of the staff remains intact with pitching coach Rick Anderson and bullpen coach Jeff Pico returning.

The medical staff, led by head athletic trainer Doug Teter will also return, with the exception of physical therapist Robbie Williams, who is leaving to pursue other career opportunities. 

The Tigers finished the season Sunday with a record of 47-114, second-most losses in franchise history behind only the 2003 team that lost 119 games.


Twitter: @cmccosky; Tony Paul contributed