By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – As Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler prepared to take the field against his former team for the first time Thursday, he reflected on the trade and seemed happy with the result. Now on a team stocked with veterans, Kinsler can focus on baseball – and only baseball.
Kinsler had wanted to be a leader for the Texas Rangers, for whom he played for eight seasons, but he said the scope of what the leadership role entailed on such a young team made his job more difficult sometimes.
“I wanted to be the leader,” Kinsler said in the Tigers dugout before Thursday’s game. “I love being a leader on the field. I love being a leader in the dugout. I love talking about baseball and helping players on the field and whatever has to do with relating to baseball.
“But after [Michael Young] left and the organization starting to change a little bit, a lot of young players came up and that became part of leadership – you have to teach players how to prepare the right way, and that’s in turn going to help you win, but I’m not good at that,” Kinsler continued. “I’m not good at following a guy around or telling him what time to get to the field or stuff like that, how to prepare for a game. I think they should figure that out on their own. But as far as the game, I love to lead on the field.”
Kinsler could lead in that way; it did not necessarily make him uncomfortable. However, he felt it took focus away from the on-field part of his job.
“It just subtracted away from the game, from my preparation,” Kinsler said. “I think Adrian [Beltre] took a lot of that also. It’s part of it. It’s part of the clubhouse and part of the chemistry, and that was our team at the time, and that was what needed to be done, so I tried to do it as best I could.”
Now Kinsler’s focus is solely on playing the game. Asked if not having those extra responsibilities is a relief, Kinsler agreed.
“That’s all I want to do is I want to play baseball,” Kinsler said. “I want to be on the field and compete, talk about the game, help my teammates in that way. I love to talk about baseball and what I see on the field and things that you can take advantage of, but as far as the other stuff, in my opinion, it’s for the birds and not something that I enjoy doing.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington downplayed any notion Kinsler had a leadership role forced upon him in Texas.
“I think you guys are the ones that started talking about leadership,” Washington said. “I don’t think any of you all ever been in the clubhouse, so you don’t know what leadership is. All you know is the definition of it. You don’t know what leadership is. You guys put that stuff out there. I never once went through that clubhouse and tried to tell anybody to be a leader because leaders are people that just – other players flock to. You don’t identify a leader.”