By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Sometimes it is rough being the manager of a major league baseball team.
For Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, the responsibility means having his postgame meal interrupted by media. Most of the time, he simply continues to eat, chomping at his desk as he answers questions.
When 97.1 the Ticket morning hosts Stoney and Bill asked Leyland Wednesday about his favorite postgame dish, Leyland got a little sheepish.
“I kind of apologize to the fans for that, but you know what?” Leyland said. “I guess those people are like in a hurry to get it, and they catch me, and they can’t wait, so I’ll do it.
“But I’m going to stop it because it doesn’t look very good to be chewing and talking at the same time, I guess, on TV like that,” Leyland said with a bit of a laugh.
All that said, he loves the lamb chops and the corn on the cob. The chicken is good too.
Outside of vowing to attempt to break his habit of eating while being interviewed, Leyland addressed the bullpen situation that has been the bane of an otherwise strong team this season.
The manager said he thinks the bullpen in general will be fine, but he does concede the team lacks a dominant closer. He plans to rotate two or three players – he mentioned Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, and yes, Jose Valverde – at the position for now, and he seems hesitant to discuss any trade possibilities.
“You can’t just go out and keep spending money,” Leyland said. “If you want to get a real valuable, proven closer, obviously you’re talking about big dollars, you’re talking probably about giving something up that’s really valuable to your organization, so I think you have to be careful with that one.
“You just can’t snap your fingers and go to Mr. Ilitch and say, ‘Hey, we want to spend millions more to go out and get a closer,’” Leyland added. “I don’t think that’s fair.”
Leyland said he is not ready to talk about jettisoning Valverde just yet, despite the meltdowns by the closer in recent weeks.
“I’m still going to use Valverde,” Leyland said. “I just don’t think you discharge him just yet. I think you still have to give him some opportunity to see if you really think he can anymore or he can’t. I think you have to figure that out.”
Leyland likely knows that will not be a popular decision, just like he is aware that playing “fan favorite Donny Kelly” in right field Wednesday will draw some criticism.
“I’ll probably hear about that, but that’s OK. He’s actually been doing very well lately,” Leyland said.
Despite all the potential pitfalls, the Tigers as a whole have been doing pretty well too. At 39-30 on the season, Detroit leads its division and has won 56 of its last 68 games at Comerica Park dating back to July 4, 2012.