By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The final roster for the Detroit Tigers is taking shape, and one lingering questions is whether that group will include suspended (former?) shortstop Jhonny Peralta, whom the Tigers are sending to their instructional league to see if he can play left field.
If Peralta cannot play left field, Leyland told Stoney and Bill on 97.1 The Ticket, Peralta, who was given a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, will likely not be on the playoff roster.
“If an infielder got hurt or something of that nature, but that’s your only other scenario where I see that it might work out,” Leyland said. “We have to find out if Jhonny Peralta can possibly play left field. That would be an extra option. I think [general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] is using his creativity, which he’s always been very good at.
“If everybody is healthy, I would say the only way that this would work out would be if we felt Jhonny Peralta was legitimate enough in left field, and then you’d have a decision to make,” Leyland added.
The questions about whose place Peralta would take are not ones Leyland will answer now, but he did add that the Tigers are definitely considering Peralta.
“What Dave said is, Look, at this particular time, we’re going to reinstate him when that time comes, and we’ll make a baseball decision. And we’ll try to make the one that’s best for the Tigers,” Leyland said. “I doubt very much whether he’d be a bench player. Possibly if you’re playing somebody that’s got a couple righties and a couple lefties where you might platoon.”
After the discussion on the player with the least certain future with the Tigers, Leyland talked about the pitcher who perhaps has the most confidence of his team than any other right now – Max Scherzer.
A contender for the American League Cy Young, Scherzer’s statistics across the board are solid, but what has garnered him the most attention are his wins. While wins, most people admit, are a flukey number, Leyland appreciates them.
“I like wins,” Leyland said. “I’m a win guy. That’s the idea. That’s why you play the game, to win. They can talk ’til the cows come home about all this stuff, but to me, a good Major League pitcher is a guy that for the most part every time he goes out there, or close to every time he goes out there, he gives his team a chance to win.”
“The thing that a lot of people don’t talk about is what it does to your club mentally when a guy like Max Scherzer is having the year he’s having, when you play that game, what it does,” Leyland added. “That little extra edge that it gives your club mentally is unbelievable, and that’s another thing that I take into consideration. Believe me, right now, our guys are feeling really good when Max Scherzer pitches, and there’s something to be said for that.”
To Leyland, a veteran of nearly half a century of baseball, performance is evaluated by more than just statistics, more than ERA and WHIP and a variety of other formulas.
“The Cy Young, you can look at those numbers any way you want to,” Leyland added. “Once again, it’s a lot of guys who haven’t played that all they know how to do is to put a number on something in baseball, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not making fun of those people. I’m not disagreeing, necessarily, with those people, but when you don’t have the pulse of what’s going on with the game and the team and the human element of it, it’s hard just to put numbers on stuff in baseball.”