McClendon’s major impact on Mariner’s 2014 season

James Klumker, Reporter

After playing in Major League Baseball for seven years for numerous teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Lloyd McClendon began his coaching career three years later after playing with the Pirates. And guess where he started. You guessed it, Pittsburgh. McClendon arrived to Pittsburgh as a hitting coach for three years, then was promoted to manager the next season (2001). After serving the pirates as manager until 2005, because of a bad call in 2005 that McClendon disagreed with, he was ejected, and eventually fired.

The next year, McClendon was hired as a bullpen and eventually hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers for seven seasons (2006-2013). Then, McClendon had a new job to tackle. A man by the name of Eric Wedge was called to serve as a manager in Seattle for the Mariners on Oct. 18 2010, for the 2011 season. After coaching for three years, Wedge announced he would not return for the 2014 season as manager, his team finished in last place in their division two years in a row. Wedge missed 28 days in the 2013 season because of a stroke.

McClendon was hired to take on this mammoth of a struggling team for the 2014 season. But McClendon wasn’t the only new addition to the team. All-star second baseman, and former Yankee, Robinson Cano accepted a ten-year $240 million contract to play for the Mariners. The arrival of Robinson Cano had a great impact on the Mariners for the 2014 season. But it is not Cano I am going to talk about. It is McClendon. McClendon’s impact has been so great, that in his first year managing the Mariners, he has led them to their first playoff appearance in 13 years.

Although he had much help from the best pitcher in the MLB, Felix “King” Hernandez, and all-stars Kyle Seager, Fernando Rodney, and of course, Robinson Cano, he was able to transform an entire team with a losing reputation, into a playoff-competitive group of ball players. Despite only getting a few new players to the team, he was able to turn their team’s batting average from 0.234 to 0.244, in one year and the Mariners did not get a new hitting coach. That is a magnificent improvement from previous years. But not as much as their winning record.

In 2013, the Mariners ended with a 71-91 record putting them second to last in the AL west division, and in their 2014 season the Mariners ended with a 87-75 record with a 0.537 win-loss percentage, 0.099 better than the year before (.438). At the start of spring training, the New York Yankees hitting coach, Kevin Long, criticized Cano for not hustling down the first base line, McClendon responded in a fervent manner.

“Last time I checked, I didn’t know that Kevin Long was the spokesperson for the New York Yankees,” McClendon told “That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I’m sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He’s concerned with his team and what they’re doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.”

McClendon also regarded Kevin Long claiming himself as “The guru of hitting” in Long’s book, Cage Rat, McClendon sticks up for his players, develops them, and develops his team. The Mariners after a long season, ended with 87 wins and 75 losses, and lost to the Angels in their last game in the playoffs right after previously beating them in the eleventh inning, with Austin Jackson beating a double play and scoring Brad Miller. McClendon in his first year, was able to transform the Seattle Mariners who have not been in the playoffs for 13 years, into a playoff competitive team. McClendon has been a great influence on his players, coaches, and the people of Seattle. Thank you McClendon.