Still a little cold outside

The weather finally got the best of the Tigers on Sunday. It wasn’t the cold (the temperatures were actually a little warmer than Saturday) so much as the combination of cold and wind that forced them to throw inside the cages. Jordan Tata said he was tossing the ball with Virgil Vasquez outside in the wind and had trouble getting the ball to him. "I think the wind’s more dangerous than the cold, to be honest with you," Leyland said.

Of course, cold is relative, and by no means are the Tigers trying to relate this to Detroit’s winter weather. But this early in camp, the last thing they want is for somebody to tweak a muscle trying to run after standing around for a while. So they’re playing it safe.

Leyland was hoping to do some situational drills on the field Sunday, but he’ll have to push that back. The warm-up weatherwise supposedly begins Monday.

Other notes from a relatively slow Sunday:

  • Carlos Guillen said he won’t worry about negotiations on a new contract if they drag on into the season. Not surprisingly, he said Detroit is his first choice, but he’s also realistic about the business. "I don’t worry," he said, "because I knew where I started, in Houston (before trades to Seattle and Detroit). You know where you start, but you don’t know where you finish."
  • Interesting observations from Leyland on Omar Infante, who will be getting some outfield work this spring. It took him a while to figure Infante out, he said in the morning, but he likes him a lot. Asked later if he could see Infante as an everyday shortstop next year if the Tigers lose Guillen, Leyland said, "I would say that’s stretching it. I don’t know that, because I haven’t seen him enough. But right now, I would say that would be stretching it."
  • Marcus Thames is in town and is expected to start working right away at first base. Thames told Leyland that he’s been getting the hang of it while working out over the offseason.
  • Leyland said he’ll definitely take 12 pitchers out of camp this spring, leaving 13 spots for position players.
  • Brandon Inge came into camp on Sunday, no longer having to worry about work as an extra catcher, and Leyland said he sees room for Inge to improve on both sides. Defensively, he sounded like somebody who wants his third baseman to try fewer highlight plays. "He’s such a gifted athlete," Leyland said, "but sometimes there’s not a miracle play to be made."

5 Comments

We may have seen evidence of why Omar Infante seems relegated to bench warmer status. Leyland was quoted the other day as saying that Omar as an everday SS in the future was “stretching it”.
( http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070219/SPORTS02/702190370/1050 )

I am surprised by the comment. Infante is a critical part of this club and from what I have seen, an emotional and sensitive individual. Leyland gets much credit for his “handling” of players as people, but in this case he has been transparently indelicate, if not just simply wrong.

Infante has exceptional skills and is the kind of player who should be cultivated, not minimized. Leyland had streaks of dictatorial treatment of some of his players last year, vis a vis, Shelton, Thames and Infante. I think it is easy to get awkward when being interviewed by media but this statement regarding Omar was imprudent at best and I hope this is not a sign he will be alienated this season. I can think of a 100 different responses JL could have used when asked if Omar could be an everday SS in the Major Leagues. It seems to me that JL is as rigid in his personal opinions on players as he is lovable to appreciative and admiring fans. One thing for sure, you don’t want to get on his “badside”.

Without knowing Leyland personally, we are of course engaging in armchair psychology. With that being said, my take was that JL said it, tried to back off, then stuck with it since it was already out there. I suppose if it really did cause a problem with Infante, it can be handled internally. My guess is that JL’s strong point is in that area. An example would be Bo Schembechler or Woody Hayes. We rarely got to see the side of these coaches that made their players love them. I’m just tossing out another angle.

Taking this a step further, I’m not convinced myself that Infante can be an everyday big league shortstop, because I think his best position is secondbase. The question involved only playing SS.

I also garnered from all this that Carlos Guillen is a pretty slick interview. Seems to know what to say. Impressive guy.

Good points. I don’t want to see omar as SS because it would mean the most valuable Tiger is on the shelf. But as far as knowing JL personally goes well I think we do. he is out there znd what you see is what you get. If you don’t like it –too bad. I admire that and also realize its importance and impact on today’s ball players–BUT (notice that was a BIG but), I don’t agree that everything JL does is OK or even good. I think hae has been somewhat idealized and almost reveretnially deferred to in all matters that pertain to baseball. The overwhelming majority of credit for last year should go out to the players. I like Leyland and can’t think of another manager that I would actually prefer for this club. The danger I see is that his stubborness and straight-forward aproach be mistaken for wisdom. Is it refreshing to see this candor in sports–yes sir. Does he get the most out of his players–generally yes. Should we supplicate ourselves on a prayer rug in front of him—well, that’s where I draw the line. Using one of Jim’s favorite phrases, “To be honest with you”, we need to maintain our persoanl critique and vigilance on what the “lovable old coot does this year”. I don’t think he would have it any other way.

And for the record—I think Infante will be an everyday major league middle infielder next year, and he can handle the duties at SS more than adequately.

Leyland has said and done(remember Thames getting NO at-bats in the W.S.?)some questionable things, and his quote concerning Infante seems to be one.

He can get away with it, because the guy has helped bring a winner back to Detroit. However, if things should turn around, I have a feeling many fans would not be so forgiving of some of his eccentricities.

Whatever the motivation for this quote about Omar, I think we can all assume that it wasn’t said off-handedly. Either Infante did something to make JL mad, or Jim thinks he needs a kick in the pants.

Leyland is an outstanding Manager, no doubt about it. But, it appears to me, he is the kind of guy, whose “act” wears thin after 4 or 5 years. Maybe less. He seems to want to go out of his way to make sure everyone knows who is in charge. That gets a little old after a while, particularly on a veteran ball club.

Besides…………..Infante could be a very nice SS for say………..the Devil Rays, couldn’t he? Probably hit .270, 15 dingers, 70 rbi, and play the field well enough.

I agree with your last paragraph, Scratch. Omar is better than some guys out there plying the trade. I thought, however, you may have overestimated how long it takes Leyland’s “act” to wear thin. I’d predict that if he isn’t producing winners by the end of 2008, that would be the end of it. Maybe even mid-season of 2008.

Dan, I don’t think there’s any risk of JL escaping the critique of this board. :-) I recall being so frustrated with him at one point last summer that I said he shouldn’t be manager of the year. But I’ll add our usual disclaimer: there’s no one else I want managing this ballclub right now.

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