10/09/2002 8:52 pm ET
Trammell era begins, again
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The Tigers hang the numbers of just a handful of legends along the outfield of Comerica Park. By donning his old No. 3 again, Alan Trammell has a chance to become one of the greatest Tiger legends of all.
Trammell is back to try to turn around a struggling franchise that has lost 202 games over the past two seasons and hasn't had a playoff berth -- or a winning season -- since he was still a player.
"There's a lot of work to be done," said Trammell, named Wednesday as the 35th manager in Tigers history. "There's no question about that. But there are some things we can do to be better right away. That's my job. What I'm going to expect is the kind of professionalism and consistent effort on a daily basis. That's how I was as a player and a coach. That's how I'll be as a manager."
Trammell's signature on a three-year contract brings a sudden end to what was expected to be a lengthy search. The selection, which president/general manager Dave Dombrowski expected to take as long as a month, was finished in just over a week. Dombrowski's mind was made up even sooner than that, almost as soon as he finished interviewing Trammell on Friday afternoon.
"I heard a lot of things about Alan being a nice person, and he is," Dombrowski said. "But also when you talk baseball, he is not afraid at all to tell you how he feels, how he thinks it should be done. I came across tremendously impressed in the interview process, as did the rest of the members."
Trammell conjures memories of the Tigers' last great era, and the emotional attachment that comes with nearly a quarter-century in the organization. No former Tiger has managed the club on a full-time basis since Billy Martin from 1971-73. Trammell is one of just three players ever to play 20 seasons in Detroit. Another was Ty Cobb. The third, Al Kaline, was part of the five-man interview team that talked to Trammell during the search for a manager.
Trammell made six All-Star appearances and earned four Gold Glove Awards with the Tigers. He was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Tigers' last World Series trip, in 1984.
"The history of the olde English D has been a big part of my life," Trammell said. "But as you know me, you know how special it's meant for me to wear that uniform. That No. 3 I wore very proud and I thought I did a pretty good job for a long period of time. This is a blue-collar town. All you expect is a good day's work, a good effort. ... It hurt me being away from here and looking from afar and seeing that this club has not done as well as I'd like to have seen."
It remains to be seen whether Trammell's passion for the team will translate into managerial success. He spent the last three seasons as the Padres first-base coach after serving as hitting coach for the Tigers in 1999, but has never managed. Detroit tapped Trammell over Willie Randolph, who has served nine years as a coach for the Yankees, and Bruce Fields, who managed for eight years in the Tigers' farm system but never coached in the majors.
A candidate who combined Major League coaching and minor-league managerial experience, A's bench coach Ken Macha, was contacted but never interviewed.
For Dombrowski, the interview as well as Trammell's tutelage under managers Sparky Anderson as a player and Bruce Bochy as a coach erased any worries about his lack of managerial experience.
"This is the biggest decision we were going to make in many years to come," Dombrowski said, "and we can't make it because somebody is a favorite player or somebody's a nice guy. We need to make it because we think whoever we appoint has the best chance to make us become successful as an organization."
He made his reputation as a quiet leader on the club who had few if any enemies. In order to facilitate a baseball renaissance in Detroit, he'll have to enforce his will on a clubhouse that lost confidence in his predecessors. Phil Garner was fired this past April following an 0-6 start to his third season. His replacement, Luis Pujols, finished what became a 56-106 season for the Tigers and was not retained.
"I was nice because I was raised properly and I was taught very well," Trammell warned. "But when you think about it, I didn't play in the Majors 20 years being a nice guy."
Fields still earned his long-awaited promotion to Detroit. He'll serve as Tigers hitting coach, the first appointment to Trammell's staff. Trammell said he's "very close" to announcing other members of his staff, which could come in the ensuing days as the Tigers prepare for next week's organization meetings in Lakeland, Fla.
The 1983 Comeback Player of the Year retired as a player six years ago. His decision to attempt the leap from coach to manager, he said, was based on a quality he displayed in spades during his playing career: instinct.
"I do things on feel," Trammell says. "If [the opportunity to manage] was there a year ago, I might not have done it."
As far as the risk goes, Trammell said, "After six years, I can handle it now."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.