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McClendon brings experience Tigers wanted to Triple-A post

GM Avila dismisses speculation about Ausmus' future

DETROIT -- The Tigers are trying to restock their farm system with prospects for the big league club. They did not bring back Lloyd McClendon to serve as a managerial prospect biding his time at Triple-A Toledo.

That was the message Detroit general manager Al Avila gave MLB Network host Christopher Russo during his segment on High Heat. When Russo said the hiring of McClendon to manage the Mud Hens after two big league managerial stints had the appearance of a backup plan if Brad Ausmus' team gets off to a slow start, Avila dismissed the suggestion.

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"The hire of McClendon has nothing to do with Ausmus, to tell you the truth," Avila said. "It's kind of ridiculous, but I guess people can speculate all they want, because McClendon didn't have to take a job at all. He could've sat at home and watched the games on TV, and if something were to happen with a managerial position anywhere in baseball, they could've called him at home. But McClendon wanted to keep working."

McClendon was introduced in Toledo last week, just weeks after new Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto let him go with a year left on his contract. McClendon's teams went 87-75 and 76-86 over two seasons in Seattle. Add in a five-year stint in Pittsburgh from 2001-05, and he's 499-607 over seven seasons as a Major League manager.

The Tigers made it clear from the outset they were looking for a veteran manager in Toledo, preferably with some Major League experience. They not only accomplished that, they brought back a familiar face in McClendon, who coached on manager Jim Leyland's staff from 2006-13.

"He wants to show the industry he's not going to sit back and take a paycheck. He's going to go to work," Avila said. "He wants to show the industry he's here to work, not sit at home and wait for somebody to call.

"It really has nothing to do with Ausmus, because anything that happens with any manager at the Major League level, and you want to replace that guy, it doesn't matter if he's sitting in Toledo or sitting at home or anywhere else. It's ludicrous, to tell you the truth."

The Tigers interviewed McClendon for their managerial opening two years ago before hiring Ausmus, who was working in the Padres' front office at the time. Detroit has a 164-159 regular-season record under Ausmus, who has one guaranteed year left on his contract. The Tigers hold a club option for 2017.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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