By Ashley Dunkak
The day after listing media responsibilities as one of the exhausting parts of the manager job that he would not miss, former Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland continued to make the rounds to talk about his retirement.
Among a litany of topics, Leyland, who has a reputation as a manager players enjoy, talked about some of his favorite players over the years – not based on talent but just players he really liked. Mostly, though, he liked just about everyone.
“I managed so long, 33 years total counting the minor leagues. I guess the best way to say it is I could really count on one hand the players I just didn’t care for,” Leyland told Stoney and Bill of 97.1 The Ticket. “I would have to say Bob Walk at Pittsburgh was one of my favorites, he was a pitcher, obviously. Placido Polanco at Detroit was one of my favorite, favorite players, I really liked him a lot, and probably Todd Helton at Colorado, were three of the guys … I really for the most part, I liked all my players. I really did. They’re good guys, no matter what team I managed.”
Leyland has always given credence to the character of the team as a whole in Detroit, but the clubhouse he is leaving does feature quite a few big-money names and a good number of veterans. As such, Leyland said it can be a difficult team to manage. While he does not offer too much about the qualities the next Tigers manager should have, he does recommend his successor take a certain approach because of the experienced nature of the current group of players.
“I do know this for sure – this is not an easy team to manage,” Leyland said. “It’s not an easy team to manage. It’s a great team to manage, but there’s a lot of good players, and you need to learn how to handle these guys, and I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them because there’s not. But this is kind of some tough veteran guys. I’m not really sure.
“I think the biggest thing for the next manager … don’t come in and try to force yourself on anybody,” Leyland continued. “Just let things flow, let things continue to flow and just earn their respect, but don’t try to come in and let them know how smart you are or you’re going to be tough. You just need to let things flow and get a feel for it, spring training, and then go accordingly. I think that would be the best solution for this particular team.”