SEATTLE — Llyod McClendon was hired as manager of the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, taking over a rebuilding job that Eric Wedge walked away from.
McClendon becomes the third manager hired by general manager Jack Zduriencik. Wedge quit at the end of the Mariners’ fourth straight losing season, citing differences with the front office on how to move forward with improving the team. Wedge’s contract expired after the season.
The 54-year-old McClendon is the 16th full-time manager in club history. He takes over a club that went 71-91 last year. He will be formally introduced by the team on Thursday.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to manage the Seattle Mariners,” McClendon said in a statement. “Seattle has a tremendous group of talented players and the fans and city should be excited about the club’s future. I’m looking for this group to take a big step forward.”
Seattle is the fourth club to fill its managerial vacancy. The Washington Nationals hired Matt Williams to replace Davey Johnson. The Cincinnati Reds, who fired Dusty Baker after a 90-win season, went with pitching coach Bryan Price as their new manager and Detroit chose Brad Ausmus to take over for Jim Leyland — a job McClendon interviewed for.
McClendon was the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2001-05, going 336-446 during the Pirates’ 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Pittsburgh never won more than 75 games or finished higher than fourth in the NL Central during his tenure and he was fired in early September of the 2005 season.
After Pittsburgh, McClendon settled into a stable role Leyland’s staff in Detroit. For eight seasons, McClendon was a coach for the Tigers, including the last seven as hitting coach. He interviewed for managerial positions in Seattle and Miami during that stretch, but never got an offer.
“Lloyd is a bright and articulate guy,” Zduriencik said in the statement. “He has major league managerial experience and has served in a vital capacity in Detroit under one of the game’s best managers. He is a tireless worker and is very respected by the players with whom he has worked. We look forward to Lloyd embracing our players as we move the Mariners forward.”
When Leyland announced his retirement last month, McClendon interviewed for the position with the Tigers that eventually went to Ausmus.
McClendon was one of five reported finalists for the Mariners job, a list that included Joey Cora, Oakland bench coach Chip Hale, Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach and San Diego bench coach Rick Renteria. McClendon was the only one of the group with previous major league managerial experience.
Cora had ties to the Mariners franchise from his time as a player in Seattle.
McClendon spent eight seasons in the majors as a player with the Mariners, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs. He immediately transitioned from a playing career into coaching, serving as a hitting coach for the Pirates in 1995 until he accepted their managerial position before the 2001 season.