DETROIT (CBS Detroit) A jovial Jim Leyland called into the Stoney & Bill show on 97.1 The Ticket Friday morning, obviously relaxed after a few months of down time, and laid out his plans for the team in 2013.
One of his plans is not to take the bad stuff too personally.
“I’m trying to get better with that stuff and roll with the punches and make it kind of a fun thing,” Leyland said, adding he knows some were calling for his resignation last year. “There’s still some people who want to have me replaced, but winning normally cures all and we had a heck of a year, we had two really good years in a row … hopefully the good players that we have will play good and they’ll take the heat off the manager.”
Talking line-up, will Andy Dirks become an everyday player in the upcoming season? Despite the “free Dirks” campaign, it didn’t sound like it.
“I think you get better results right now, I think he wears down a little bit, I think he’s susceptible to injury a little bit, and I think if you overdo it with him, there’s a chance that you might hurt him … I love him, he’s one of the dirtballs I talk about … I’m not saying he can’t play every day … I’m just saying, I think it’s better to make sure you take care of him and not overuse him because I think you might be sorry about that,” the coach said.
Pundits say the Tigers should have quite a locker room in 2013, with leaders like Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez, but Leyland is more concerned with how they play on the field.
“I think people forget, we also got Sanchez back, that was not a slam dunk, he was a free agent, so we also kind of reacquired him” Leyland said. “That’s pretty good, three pretty good guys, you’re right, Torii Hunter is a great leader on and off the field, but the most important thing for me … He’s also a great major league player … Having Victor back, I thought back a couple years ago, Victor got as many big hits, singles and doubles, as anybody in baseball that year … Victor, he’s chomping at the bit, he’s ready to go.”
Without Papa Grande, who’s this season’s closer? Bruce Rondon? Leyland admitted it’s a difficult situation.
“I’m concerned about it, I don’t really think we have anybody else on the staff right now who can do it on a consistent basis, not because they’re not talented enough, I just don’t know if they would hold up physically and mentally … I think we’ll have a better appreciation of Papa Grande … His value was unbelievable … But I do like talent and this kid (Rondon) has a lot of talent,” he said.
What’s going to happen with Rick Porcello? “He’s one of our pitchers and I’m looking forward to working with him in spring training … He’s won quite a few games for a kid 23 years old, I’ve got him penciled in … We’ll see how it plays out,” Leyland said.
On the personal front, Leyland discussed his high school reunion, and his off-season.
“Well, it’s been good really, my wife and I rented a place down in Siesta Key for three months, we went in and out for seven, eight days at a time, something a little different for us, it was OK,” he said.
On his high school reunion, Leyland said: “It was terrific, it was terrific, it was great, I hadn’t seen some of those people since I graduated, it was wonderful.”
So was he dapper in high school? “I was voted most popular, boy, I was not voted most likely to succeed, believe me,” Leyland said.