March 16th, 2008

Don't ask about chemistry

Now that the NCAA brackets are out and I can focus again, I’ll leave you with this: I know a lot of people have asked about how well Willis’ personality has meshed in the clubhouse and what he can do for team chemistry. Jim Leyland, for his part, doesn’t buy into chemistry, as we all know. And he did his best today to get rid of that line of thought.

"That [stuff] is all overrated. Write that. All that [stuff] is overrated about the clubhouse. We’ve got a great clubhouse. We had a great clubhouse before Dontrelle got here, and we’ll have a better clubhouse since he got here, because he’s a good guy and a wonderful person. I’m interested in pitching and getting outs, hitting, making plays. I’m not interested in the clubhouse.

"All that [stuff] has been media [stuff] for years — great chemistry, great clubhouse. That’s the biggest bunch of [baloney] in the history of sports. Every time somebody wants to talk about great chemistry, [forget] the chemistry in the clubhouse. I’m interested in winning games, period. I don’t know who came up with it, but the worst word ever used now is chemistry. That’s something you take in school. That’s a class you take. If he gets people out, he’ll be fun in the clubhouse. If we win games, I’ll be fun in the clubhouse. If we don’t, I won’t be fun in the clubhouse, either. He’s a wonderful, wonderful person with a great personality. We’ve got a bunch of them."

Leyland: I've got 24 players

Img068In other words, he has nailed down one of the open bullpen spots and whittled down to one roster spot to decide. He wouldn’t name who it was, but if you look at Saturday’s box score for how the relief candidates did, Denny Bautista pitched another 1 1/3 solid innings, and Preston Larrison was roughed up.

With two bullpen spots to fill, you can make an argument it would be hard for Bautista not to make the staff the way he’s pitching. You wait for the wild Bautista to show up, the one who can’t control the fastball and either gets roughed up for walks a bunch of guys. So far, that Bautista hasn’t been seen.

Anyway, he’s the Tigers lineup for this split squad:

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Sheffield, DH
  4. Thames, 1B
  5. Jones, LF
  6. Renteria, SS
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Raburn, RF
  9. St. Pierre, C

And for the Rays:

  1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
  2. Jason Bartlett, SS
  3. Carlos Pena, 1B
  4. B.J. Upton, CF
  5. Jonny Gomes, RF
  6. Evan Longoria, 3B
  7. Eric Hinske, DH
  8. Joel Guzman, LF
  9. Mike DiFelice, C (yes, the ex-Tiger)

That’s what we have here at Al Lang Field, where I’m trying to envision a giant sail over the ballpark and what that would look like. They have some renderings of their proposed ballpark available in the press box, and it looks in some ways like old Olympic Stadium in Montreal, with the big tower.