The Detroit Tigers have shifted gears.
Triple-A Toledo manager Gary Jones, hired in early December to lead the Mud Hens, received a promotion Thursday when Tigers manager AJ Hinch added the 61-year-old to his MLB coaching staff as the team’s first base coach, filling Kimera Bartee’s role.
Bartee died suddenly from a brain tumor in December at the age of 49.
To replace Jones at the Triple-A level, the Tigers brought Lloyd McClendon back to the organization as the Mud Hens’ manager. The 63-year-old has MLB managerial experience for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2001-05), Seattle Mariners (2014-15) and Tigers (interim in 2020).
McClendon has a 501-613 record in his MLB managerial career. He also played eight years in the majors for the Cincinnati Reds (1987-88), Chicago Cubs (1989-90) and Pirates (1990-94), hitting .244 with 35 home runs, 143 walks and 165 strikeouts in 570 games.
In Pittsburgh, Jim Leyland was McClendon’s manager. He brought McClendon with him to the Tigers’ organization in 2006 as one of his assistant coaches.
“I am looking forward to returning to Toledo and working with the Tigers in a developmental role,” McClendon said in a statement. “Fifth Third Field is a tremendous ballpark and Toledo has some of the most passionate baseball fans in all of minor league baseball. It is something that I really enjoyed being around in 2016 and am looking forward to that once again.”
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The last time McClendon appeared in Triple-A Toledo was 2016, when he managed the Mud Hens to a 68-76 record in his lone season as a manager in the minor leagues.
In September 2020, McClendon was named interim manager for the Tigers after Ron Gardenhire announced his retirement. One month later, Hinch was named the Tigers’ manager and did not keep McClendon on the coaching staff.
“It is great to welcome Lloyd McClendon back to the Mud Hens,” Mud Hens general manager Erik Ibsen said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with him from the major league level and knows what the city of Toledo is all about from his time back in 2016. This is another reason to get us excited about baseball coming back to Fifth Third Field in April.”
The Mud Hens’ 2022 season begins April 5.
Jones has five seasons of MLB coaching experience, first in 1998 as the first base coach for the Oakland Athletics and then from 2014-17 as the third base coach for the Cubs. Chicago journeyed to the postseason in three of Jones’ four years, winning the 2016 World Series.
Coaching for the Cubs, Jones built a close relationship with Tigers shortstop Javier Baez. The 29-year-old played for the Cubs (2014-21) and New York Mets (2021) before signing a six-year, $140 million contract in December to join the Tigers.