The Tigers announced Thursday that they’ve promoted Triple-A manager Gary Jones to the Major League staff, where he’ll serve as the team’s new first base coach. The promotion comes in the wake of the tragic death of Detroit first base coach Kimera Bartee, passed away at just 49 years of age earlier this offseason due to a brain tumor.
Jones, 61, assumes his new role under unenviable circumstances, but he’ll bring a wealth of prior coaching and managerial experience to the position. He’s spent more than three decades in professional baseball, serving as a minor league skipper with the A’s, Red Sox and Padres — where he also worked as a minor league coordinator for nearly a decade. Jones was also Oakland’s first base coach back in 1998. He also served as the Cubs’ third-base coach from 2014-17, meaning he’s no stranger to newly signed shortstop Javier Baez or to third baseman Jeimer Candelario — who debuted with the Cubs in 2016-17 before being traded to Detroit at the ’17 deadline.
Jones joins third base coach Ramon Santiago, bench coach George Lombard, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, assistant hitting coach Mike Hessman, pitching coach Chris Fetter, assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves and quality control coach Josh Paul in rounding out manager A.J. Hinch’s staff for the upcoming season.
Jones’ ascension to the Major League staff left a vacancy with the Triple-A Toledo MudHens, but they’ve also filled that role with a very familiar name: Lloyd McClendon. The 63-year-old McClendon managed the MudHens back in 2016, but he’s best known for his time as the big league manager with the Pirates (2001-05), Mariners (2014-15) and his stint as the Tigers’ interim manager late in the 2020 season, following Ron Gardenhire’s retirement.
McClendon also has 16 years of Major League coaching experience — most of it coming with the Tigers organization. He’s previously held the roles of bullpen coach, hitting coach and bench coach with the Tigers, working alongside managers Jim Leyland, Brad Ausmus and Gardenhire.