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12.10.13 Lloyd McClendon - Winter Meetings

12.10.13 Lloyd McClendon - Winter Meetings

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Published by MarinersPRJeff
Lloyd McClendon News Conference
Lloyd McClendon News Conference

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Published by: MarinersPRJeff on Dec 11, 2013
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Lloyd McClendon
  An interview with:
Q. Obviously, waiting for this opportunity for a few years. What's it feel like to be coming back and back in the saddle? How has it been the last month?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, obviously we've had a few things going on the last two or three weeks. It was really good. I saw Andre Dawson, an old teammate of mine, who said, well, you're back in the fire again. I said, yeah, I'm extremely happy. Obviously this is an opportunity that I've waited on for quite some time. I didn't think it was going to take quite this long to do it again, but I'm really excited.
Q. The team has been mentioned prominently in a lot of things. How important is it to get Cano or an impact player to really solidify that lineup?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, the one thing when I went through the interview process, jack and I talked about the direction of this club and what were some of the things that we were going to try to do. Obviously, for the most part, the pitching is in place. We have some quality young arms and we have Felix and Iwakuma at the top of the rotation. But we've struggled from an offensive standpoint for quite some time. We wanted to be able to go out and make a -- I don't know if make a statement is the word, but obviously get better from an offensive standpoint. When it opportunity came along, I would say we got better, and I got smarter really quick.
Q. How much of the team have you been able to talk to? I know that's something you wanted to do was talk to certain players?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I've talked to most of my players. Obviously trying to connect Latin  American countries, it's a little difficult to get in touch with those guys. But most of the guys in the States I've either visited with or talked with. Whenever I can get out of here, I plan on doing a little bit more.
Q. But what are you hearing from the guys about the thoughts coming into the season?
LLOYD McCLENDON: They love their new Skipper, obviously (laughing). You know, I think our guys are excited. Obviously with the commitment that we've just made, I think it shows them that we're serious about what we're trying to accomplish. I think they understand that for the most part the maturation process is just about over with. Now it's time to step up and start getting it done. I think we have some pieces in place that can hopefully get that done for us in the near future.
Q. Are you different as a manager this time than you were in Pittsburgh?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, you know, I was asked that earlier. I believe that your past prepared you for your future. I'd be foolish if I said no, I'm no different. I would hope that I'm better. I know I'm older, I'm a little more grayer, and hopefully a little smarter. I would say, yes. I'm going to be much different, yeah.
Q. Did you do a lot of thinking of what you would do differently if you got another chance here?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Get better players (laughing). A guy like Robinson Cano makes you really smart, really quick. Hopefully we can get a couple more pieces like that.
Q. What else does this team need?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I've been listening to, obviously, all the news outlets and we have to do more than just Robinson Cano. Look, no one player is going to win a championship for you. But I would remind people that we have some pieces in place. We have a team that we lost 18 to 20
December 10, 2013
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Lloyd McClendon
 games last year in the 8th and 9th inning, so they were really close. I think that maturation process should help them going into next year. We've got a pretty good third baseman. We've got a pretty good shortstop. We've got a first baseman that hit 21 home runs last year. We've got some young outfielders that have talent. So there are a few pieces in place. Do we need to add? Yeah. I can't be specific as to what those pieces are going to be right now, but I can assure you that Jack is doing everything he can to provide some pieces. I will say this, we're awfully left-handed. When you talk about balance and trying to balance out a lineup from an offensive standpoint, we need some more right-handed presence in our lineup. That is one of those things that we're trying to accomplish right now.
Q. What kind of conversations have you had with Cano?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Robbie and I have talked several times since our initial meeting last Thursday. He's extremely happy to be a Mariner. He's excited about the up and coming year and things that he can provide and will provide. Like I told him, we'll talk more on Thursday or Friday of this coming week and try to put our heads together on a couple of things.
Q. Is it a given that he bats three for you and anchors the lineup?
LLOYD McCLENDON: He can bat wherever he wants to bat. I told him, I said in the office, I said that couch over there is mine and that one's yours. But if you'd like to have that one, you can have that one too. He's a special talent. Look, there is no sense in fooling ourselves. But he's also a team player. He's a very special and unique person. I think he's willing to do whatever needs to be done to help us get better really fast.
Q. Most times a new manager is given some sort of rebuilding project. What kind of a luxury is it to know that you were given $240 million player right away too?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Obviously that is important talent. You can have all the managerial skills in the world, if you don't have talent, it really doesn't make a difference. The players make the manager, the manager doesn't make the player. I can obviously complement them and try to bring the best out of them. But Chuck Tanner told me a long time ago donkeys don't win the Kentucky Derby. Thoroughbreds do. You've got to have thoroughbreds out there.
Q. How much does a guy like that help the younger guys take pressure off them or maybe somebody they can watch or look up to?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I think his presence alone is going to inspire the younger players that we have. I've always said this about great players, guys like Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, the guy that just sat here that I used to protect in that Cubs lineup, they make other players around them better. I think Robinson has that unique talent to make other guys around him better. I think you'll see that.
Q. Robbie has played on a team his whole career where he's not been the biggest star with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and these other stars there. Do you worry about a guy signing this kind of contract and coming in and have pressure to be more than what he's been?
LLOYD McCLENDON: No, my conversation with Robbie is I wanted him to be Robbie. Robbie is pretty damn good. He doesn't have to be more than that. I can tell you this. When we went in to play the Yankees, the guy that we were most concerned about was Robinson Cano. So I don't know about star power, but I do know about player power, and he was the best on that team.
Q. It's hard for a younger player in the Yankees to come up and express themselves as a leader as Robbie even to this point in his career has been one of the younger players on the team. Did you get the sense he wants to be a leader on your team?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I hear that all the time. Who is going to be your leader? I hope he leads on the field. I'll do the cheerleading and leading in the clubhouse. But I want guys on the field that can hit three-run homers. Drive in a run from second base with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning. Those to me are the guys that lead by example on the field. I don't need guys to lead in the clubhouse. I'll do that. I need the guys to do it on the field.
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Lloyd McClendon
Q. Having just spent eight years with Jim on his staff, what is maybe something from that experience?
LLOYD McCLENDON: You know he's probably going to get pissed at me, but I joked about this at my news conference. I've learned how to smoke cigars in my underwear. But seriously, I mean, Jim -- I think it's important no matter who you are or what you're trying to accomplish in life, I think it's important that you do have mentors. Certainly I've been very fortunate to have Jim as a mentor for me and a friend. A lot of who I am and what I'm all about is certainly some responsibility of Jim's in a lot of ways. Guys like Don Zimmer, they've certainly shaped who I am and what I've become. For the most part, I'm pretty damn proud of it. Jim certainly has taught me a lot about the game and a lot about life. One of the things that I think is really important when you talk about being a baseball manager is to be able to step back and enjoy the moment. I'm not sure if I was capable of doing that as a young man danger in Pittsburgh but this time around I'm certainly going to be able to step back and enjoy the moments and watch my players perform.
Q. Have you seen similarities between this team that you took over and when you guys arrived to Detroit?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I do. I see a lot of similarities. I spoke about that earlier. I think this is what I would call an innocent climb for this club. Certainly it's a golden era for the Seattle Mariners. We have an opportunity to do some special things and we have some special things in place. Obviously, with Felix and Iwakuma, we've got a couple of young men that have tremendous arms. I'm sure all of you guys have known and everybody is talking about him and everybody wants those players. So that tells you what type of players you have. From a pitching standpoint, I see a lot of similarities. The signing of Robinson Cano kind of relates to Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez coming into Detroit, a team that lost 119 games, certainly was going nowhere fast. So I certainly see a lot of similarities. I think we have probably a better foundation than they did in Detroit at that time. There is probably a little bit more talent on the pitching side of things. So, yeah, I think it's a lot like that.
Q. When you took the job, did you anticipate something like that big name?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I anticipated something happening. It's one of the things Jack and I talked about quite a bit about what commitments we had moving forward. We knew we had pitching in place, are we committed to trying to get the offense to help things along. I think this shows ownership's commitment to winning in Seattle and trying to make us a competitive ballclub on the field.
Q. Have you been able to talk to Felix at all about his thoughts in that organization? He's one of the oldest guys on the team.
LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, yeah. Felix pulled a Jim Leyland on me. He called me late one night. He forgot he was three hours behind me. I said that's okay, you can call me any time. So we proceeded to talk for about an hour on a lot of different subjects. I know Felix is very committed to the Seattle Mariners and committed to winning. He's extremely happy about the direction which we're going. We look forward to getting it on real soon.
Q. You mentioned right-handed at-bats. Jesus Montero kind of lost his place last year. Have you talked to him?
LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, he's one of the guys I have not had a chance to reach out to yet. He's certainly a part of this organization and part of the future. He struggled a little bit, but he's a tremendous talent. He came highly publicized, as of yet has not lived up to what he's capable of doing. But I see good things in this young man in the near future.
Q. How much will you -- you have a lot of guys on the team, you have (inaudible), will you jump in and lend a hand in that regard or will you just stick to the managing the staff?
LLOYD McCLENDON: I will not micromanage. I will suggest things on a lot of different fronts, not just hitting. I've been in this game for quite some time. I think I know pretty much every facet of the game for the most part. I was a bullpen coach in '06, and the bullpen was pretty darn good. I have some thoughts. I have some ideals that I will try to interject. But I hired, I believe, a very competent and qualified coaching staff, and I'll let them do their jobs.

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