Jackson likely to get first shot at leadoff

Jim Leyland says he doesn’t have a clue who’s going to bat leadoff for the Tigers when the season opens. But he has an idea who will probably leadoff for them when the Spring Training schedule opens in a little over five weeks.

“I assume starting off that Jackson’s going to probably lead off in Spring Training to see what he looks like,” Leyland said Saturday at TigerFest. “I’m not really sure who’s going to hit second just yet. We’ll take a look at it.”

Leyland raised the possibility that Jackson and fellow rookie Scott Sizemore could bat first and second, but Leyland also wondered aloud whether he’d want two rookies batting immediately ahead of Miguel Cabrera in the lineup.

“There’s one thing I know about Jackson: I know he’s a Major League center fielder,” Leyland said. “The question with him is how soon does he progress at the plate to become a good Major League hitter. There’s no question, I’m real comfortable that he’s going to be a very good center fielder. I’m not worried about that. His defense is going to be fine. That’s not even a question for me.

“But you can’t expect him to just come in and tear it up offensively. It’s tough. It takes time. So you have to break him in, nurse him and not throw him to the wolves. But if you’re going to play every day, you’re going to face some good Major League pitching.”

Leyland said he’ll be looking at plate discipline from Jackson, both in terms of not chasing bad pitches and his ability to take a walk. But his remarks reinforce the idea that Jackson is the closest the Tigers have to a natural leadoff man in their lineup.

“I don’t know who’s going to be the leadoff guy Opening Day. I would like it to be him,” Leyland said. “But that doesn’t mean I know who it’s going to be.”

Leyland talked a lot about the protoypical leadoff guy, much like Dombrowski did as you can see below. Leyland suggested he’s never really had that prototypical leadoff man in his managerial career, and he isn’t calling Jackson one of those guys. His point was that they’ve made it work over the years.

1 Comment

Oh, how I wish I could have been there or even watch the interviews. Austin Jackson certainly is a mature young man. I was very impressed hearing him talk about himself and his upcoming role with the Tigers. He comes across as someone who is self-assured but not cocky. He’s also a great dresser. Just like Leland said, we just don’t know yet who will be the lead off guy in April. He definitely wants it to be Jackson, but I hope the Skipper doesn’t rush him into it. We all know how hard headed he can be. Looks like everything will be decided in spring training. Oh man, I can hardly wait.

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