MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Skipper can gain second-hand measure of success

McClendon looking to follow same winning path like Torre, Cox

Skipper can gain second-hand measure of success

PHOENIX -- Lloyd McClendon was excited when he got his first managerial opportunity with the Pirates.

He was ready when the Mariners gave him a second chance to manager in the big leagues.

And McClendon's situation is not unusual.

Joe Torre was dismissed by the Mets, Braves and Cardinals before being hired to manage the Yankees -- a move the New York tabloids greeted with backpage headlines about "Average Joe" -- and last summer, Torre was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his managerial success.

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Bobby Cox, who shared the stage in Cooperstown with Torre, was dismissed from his job as manager of the Braves, and then after managing the Blue Jays, he was lured back to Atlanta as the general manager before returning to the dugout and leading the Braves to a professional sports record 14 consecutive first-place finishes in the National League East.

Now there have been four managers to win a World Series in their first managerial opportunity -- Bucky Harris with the 1924 Senators, Eddie Dyer with the '46 Cardinals, Ralph Houk with the '61 Yankees, and Bob Brenly with the 2001 Diamondbacks -- and six others, who after taking over in the midst of a previous season, guided a team to a World Series championship in their first full seasons.

More often, than not, a manager does benefit from previous experience.

"When I was younger, we'd talk about recycled managers," said Indians skipper Terry Francona, who previously managed the Phillies and the Red Sox. "Then, I went through it the first time. ... I felt I was better off the second time. I appreciated getting another chance."

The second time, with the Red Sox, Francona won two World Series championships, including 2004, when Boston snapped the Curse of the Bambino and presented the Fenway faithful with their first championship since 1918.

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"I was better equipped," Francona said. "Like a player, the more you do something the more confident you get."

Confidence is a key.

Ned Yost helped lay a foundation for success in Milwaukee in his first managerial job. A Brewers franchise that sustained 12 consecutive losing seasons, had a winning record in three of Yost's last four seasons as a manager, although he was dismissed with 12 games remaining in the 2008 season. Yost did, however, leave the club in position to make it into the postseason that year for the third time in franchise history, and the first since 1982.

This past season, Yost's fourth full year as Royals manager, he took Kansas City to the World Series, where it lost to the Giants in seven games, ending a 29-year postseason drought for the franchise.

Yost third in AL MOY

And Yost admitted he was a different manager the second time around.

"[The first time] I wanted to do everything myself," he said. "I wanted to set the tone. I always did my own schedules."

Now, however, Yost has learned his lesson. He has learned to delegate, and trust his coaches, from the start of the spring until the final out of the postseason.

"Every playoff game, I'd tell [the coaches], 'Don't let me screw this up,'" he said. "They would look at me and say, 'Don't worry skip, we won't.' And you know what, they didn't."

McClendon knows the feeling.

"I was young and inexperienced," McClendon said of his four-plus seasons with Pittsburgh. "You play the game, you coach it, but you don't realize how fast it is until you manage. There are a lot of things I have done differently in Seattle. It's like anything. You learn from your experiences."

McClendon also had a reinforcement of his managerial education in between the Pirates and Mariners. He spent eight years as a coach with the Tigers, reuniting him with manager Jim Leyland and bench coach Gene Lamont, both of whom he had played for and coached with in Pittsburgh.

"Those two taught me so much about the X's and O's of the game, and understanding it's not your game, but it's the players game," McClendon said.

There is, however, something that a general manager puts more of an emphasis on than managerial experience.

Royals extend Yost's contract

"You want someone who is going to go along with the mantra of the organization," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "You need a manager who respects what the scouts do, what the folks in player development do, and appreciates the challenges of the people in the front office.

"It's about creating organizational harmony. The manager is an important part of that."

Yost was a perfect fit in that regard for Moore, who knew Yost from their days in Atlanta, where Moore was the director of Minor League operations, while Yost managed in the farm system before becoming a big league coach.

And Moore has seen a growth in Yost as a manager with the Royals from the Brewers.

"I think we all grow as we get experience on a job," Moore said. "We learn from the challenges we face along the way."

There are occasions where a manager is allowed to learn on the job, and eventually enjoy success without ever being dismissed.

Those instances, however, are the exception.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.