Now that the 2017 Major League Baseball season is finally in the rear view mirror, teams can start looking forward to next season. For the Detroit Tigers, it's a new era of rebuilding under new manager Ron Gardenhire.
The new skipper's first order of business has been figuring out his coaching staff for the 2018 campaign. Some of the hires began to trickle out over the past couple weeks. But the team on Wednesday formally announced the staff for next year, which features plenty of familiar faces.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) November 2, 2017
The team then announced that long-time coach Gene Lamont would no longer be a part of the club, opening yet another spot on the coaching staff. His position as bench coach has since then been assumed by Steve Liddle, who spent 11 seasons on Gardenhire's staff with the Minnesota Twins from 2002-12.
Gardenhire has brought over a lot of his former mates from his days with the Twinkies. In addition to Liddle, former Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson is now the Tigers' new bullpen coach and Joe Vavra is the team's quality control coach.
Filling out the rest of the staff are faces that Tigers fans should be very familiar with. Retained from the Brad Ausmus regime are Lloyd McClendon and Dave Clark. They will resume their positions as hitting coach and third base/outfield coach, respectively.
And two new faces join the ranks of major league coaches. First, Detroit has promoted Erie SeaWolves (Double-A) hitting coach Phil Clark — no relation to Dave. Clark had spent the last two seasons with Erie in which the SeaWolves rank among the top-third in hitting in the Eastern League. He's also had the luxury of working with some of the club's top prospects down in Erie, namely outfielders Christin Stewart and Mike Gerber.
Prior to that, Clark was the hitting coach for the Low Class-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2015 when they won the Midwest League title.
And last but certainly not least, former Tiger infielder Ramon Santiago. The 38-year-old spent 10 of his 13 big league seasons with Detroit in two separate stints (2002-03, '06-13). Santiago had small pocket appearances in the team's World Series run in 2006. He gained a more prominent role during the team's run of four straight division titles.
Santiago will replace former Tigers first base coach Omar Vizquel, who was once a candidate to be the next Tigers manager along with McClendon and Dave Clark. Vizquel said that he would not be returning to the team next season.
Gardenhire released a statement regarding the announcement:
“I'm thrilled about the coaching staff we've been able to assemble,” Gardenhire said in a statement released by the team. “Collectively, this group has extensive playing and coaching experience at both the Major and Minor League levels, and has a proven track record of developing young players. Lloyd and Dave, who were both here previously, stood out when looking at the pool of available candidates, and I'm really excited to have them continue to develop our players.
“Additionally, I've worked with many of these coaches before, and I've seen firsthand their passion for teaching the game of baseball and seeing it played the right way. I'm confident that our time in Detroit will be successful.”