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Detroit Tigers: Additons Who’ve Played for Lloyd McClendon

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Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila brought back a familiar face in the offseason, hiring former Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon to lead Triple-A Toledo. Some recent additions have played for McClendon.

Detroit Tigers baseball has seen some turnover as of late. The team struggled mightily in 2015, necessitating changes. Featuring a core that included the likes of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler, Al Avila obviously wasn’t going to go for a full-on rebuild.

Instead he picked his spots.

The relatively new general manager beefed up the bullpen and bench while adding much-needed quality in the rotation. While the acquisitions of Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Rodriguez and Justin Upton undoubtedly stole the show, one particularly underrated move made by Avila was to hire Lloyd McClendon to manage the Toledo Mud Hens.

McClendon, who was on Jim Leyland’s staff in Motown from 2006 to 2013, had recently come off a two-year stint in Seattle that was up and down at best. The Mariners had a great start under McClendon, winning 87 games in his first year, however the club lost 86 games in the manager’s second season in 2015.

The move to install McClendon at the Triple-A level could end up being a shrewd one. Having another manager in the system with experience leading a team at the highest level can only be a positive.

While the former Seattle manager will try to turn the Mud Hens into a winning ball club after finishing 61-83 last season. So far, Toledo is 7-7, which doesn’t seem too successful in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a solid start considering 2015’s record.

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Additionally, the Detroit Tigers have brought in a number of players with ties to McClendon.

One of the team’s marquee free-agent signings, reliever Mark Lowe, pitched for the manager in Seattle last season before being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season. In 34 appearances for McClendon, Lowe posted a sparkling 1.00 ERA and 47 strike outs over 36 innings pitched.

According to an article by Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers did their homework. The team “checked in with… McClendon, who managed Lowe in Seattle.” In the same article, the current Toledo manager was quoted as saying “Mark Lowe has big time stuff…This guy’s a front-line pitcher and can really come in and shut things down.”

The former Seattle pitcher has been a solid reliever for Detroit so far, posting a 2.09 FIP and five strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

Lowe wasn’t the only former Mariners reliever in the Opening Day bullpen for Detroit. Logan Kensing outlasted the likes of Bobby Parnell, Bruce Rondon and Lendy Castillo for a job as a reliever. In a MLive article, Chris Iott reported, per manager Brad Ausmus, that “Kensing made a good impression on Triple-A Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon, who managed the Mariners last year.”

The 33-year-old pitched to a 1.93 ERA in 4.2 brief innings for the Tigers. He was designated for assignment when Blaine Hardy was reinstated from the disabled list and is once again pitching for McClendon at Toledo. It probably wouldn’t be a shock to see him back with Detroit this season. 

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While Lowe and Kensing joined the Detroit organization in the offseason, the team has brought in a pair of position players who played for McClendon in Seattle.

Catcher Humberto Quintero was signed to a minor league deal to add catching depth in the wake of the James McCann injury. The veteran backstop appeared in 25 games split over two seasons for the Mariners, hitting .217 with two home runs and five RBI. He hitting .318 so far this season at the Triple-A level.

Additionally, the team claimed 26-year-old catcher John Hicks off waivers from the Twins. The former Mariner was once a well-regarded prospect in the Seattle system, and is a .276 hitter across all levels. In addition to being a solid hitter, he’s also thrown out a staggering 47% of would-be base thieves. Hicks was sent to Double-A upon joining the Tigers organization, per Detroit’s official twitter account.

Hicks appeared in 17 games for Seattle last season, hitting .063 with an RBI and 18 strikeouts. He’s also one of two Major League players to come out of Goochland High School in Virginia. The other? Justin Verlander.

In Conclusion

Hiring new Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon has already paid dividends for the Detroit Tigers in the form of two quality relievers in Lowe and Kensing—not to mention catchers Humberto Quintero and John Hicks.

Next: Good Signs for 2016

Who knows? Perhaps McClendon’s advice will lead to another acquisition that will pay dividends for the Tigers. One can only hope.

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