The 54-year-old McClendon was one of three coaches -- Gene Lamont and Rafael Belliard were the others -- to work with Jim Leyland for all of Leyland's eight seasons in Detroit. McClendon came to the Tigers off a 4 1/2-year stint managing in Pittsburgh that ended late in the 2005 season, and Leyland brought him to Detroit to keep him involved in the game -- first as the bullpen coach in 2006, then as hitting coach for the other seven seasons.
As McClendon talked Tuesday about what coaching under Leyland meant for him, he seemingly laid out the qualities he'd bring to the position.
"It's been a pleasure," McClendon said. "Obviously, when you have an opportunity to work with one of the best in the game, you'd be a fool not to learn something. That has certainly been very beneficial to me. My aspirations are hopefully to manage again, but at the same time you have to be your own man."
Much of what McClendon has learned sounds like what Leyland has preached, though it's coming from a different voice.
"I think I already had it," McClendon said, "but it certainly confirmed my convictions as far as how you go about your business, preparation, knowing your opponents and using that to your advantage, knowing your players, knowing their capabilities -- what they're capable of doing and what they're not capable of doing, and above all your leadership skills."
The biggest thing, he said, is to be yourself. Another point sounded familiar: "Be smart enough to stay out of the players' way."
McClendon posted a 336-446 record as Pirates manager, his best season a 75-87 campaign in 2003. He did not have nearly the same talent level in Pittsburgh that he has had to handle in Detroit, though he had to deal with star-level players in Jason Kendall, Brian Giles and Aramis Ramirez.
Leyland has said more than once over the years that he'd like to see McClendon get another chance to manage somewhere, and reiterated it again on a local radio station Monday to put in a good word for McClendon and Lamont. When contacted Monday, Lamont made it clear he'd like to manage again, but sounded less than confident he'd get a chance in this case.