With eight games remaining in the 2020 baseball season, Rod Gardenhire retired as manager of the Tigers, compiling an overall record of 132-241. Lloyd McClendon took over the rest of the season and compiled a record of 2-6.
After a 23-35 record and four consecutive seasons with a sub-.500 record, the Tigers are searching for a manager to help lead the team back to respectability. Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic reported on Twitter that the Pirates bench coach Don Kelly has been interviewed for the open managerial position. Faithful Tigers’ fans are likely to remember Don Kelly for his playing days with the team.
A Major League utility-man from 2007 through 2016, Kelly spent six seasons with the Tigers, batting .234 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 544 games. Overall, Kelly hit .230 for his career, which also included brief stays with the Pirates and Marlins.
Kelly is currently considered a bit of a long-shot at the job, however, due to his relatively short amount of time in the coaching ranks. At 40-years old, Kelly began his post-playing days as scout in the Tigers’ organization. From there he became first base coach for the Houston Astros in 2019. He was off to Pittsburgh this season to be bench coach under first-year manager Derek Shelton.
Although Don Kelly does have some coaching experience, which appears to be a must for Tigers General Manager Al Avila, it pales in comparison to other top candidates. The three others that have interviewed (Marucs Thames, Pedro Grifol, and George Lombard), have considerably more experience than Kelly, placing them at the forefront for new manager.
Don Kelly certainly should be a name to consider in the future for managerial positions, but best bet for this season is for him to return to Pittsburgh to continue his bench coaching duties.