Leading off at leadoff: Austin Jackson

What if the Tigers signed Johnny Damon to help out the top of their batting order, and ended up batting rookie Austin Jackson up there anyway?

It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

Though manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday he still hasn’t written out a set lineup and still doesn’t know what he’ll do with his top two spots, he sounded a little more committed than before to the idea of batting Jackson up top.

Jackson will get the first crack at leading off in Spring Training, as Leyland hinted at before. But he also sounded a little more confident that Jackson fits there.

“I’d like Jackson to lead off, if I could,” Leyland said. “I’m really kind of looking for a two hitter. But I think Jackson — if he’s here, and you’re going to play him some — he’s probably got to lead off. Probably, as we stand right now. But I don’t know that for a fact. We’ll find out.”
Admittedly, when he said that, he wasn’t including Damon in the thought process. As Leyland put it, “I don’t ever anticipate we’re going to get somebody.”

But he sure sounded like he was coming around on Jackson as a fit up there. And he definitely sounded like finding a No. 2 hitter, as the roster stands now, is a tougher decision for him.

“I have to figure out some kind of a two-hole hitter,” Leyland said. “I don’t know how that’s going to work out, unless you change our style of play. You hate to do it, although I think the game’s getting back to it, where the smaller things are meaning more again.

“Maybe you move some runners early on or something with the second hitter. Maybe you don’t just slug it like you do sometimes. Polanco was so good because he could drag a bunt or hit in the hole or hit-and-run or hit a home run. He was a really professional hitter.”

Maybe that’s something rookie Scott Sizemore can do. Maybe it’s something Adam Everett could do. Or maybe, if Johnny Damon does come to Detroit, it’s something he does.

Don’t read Leyland’s comments on the game changing, though, and figure that he’s angling towards it.

“I’m not saying I’m going to do that,” Leyland said. “I don’t want to do that.”

One thing for certain is that both Jackson and Sizemore, as long as they’re healthy, are going to get a lot of playing time this spring. It isn’t just about getting them acclimated to the big leagues as much as you can in Spring Training. It’s about Leyland and the coaching staff seeing them enough to judge them.

“I’ve never been a big Spring Training judge,” Leyland said, “but you have to do what you have to do.”

3 Comments

Good evening to all of my TigaBlogger Friends. I decided that it was time to come out of hibernation, and get the season on the roll. Thanks to everyone for keeping Beckville alive over the depression days known as the “off season” by us fanatics. It’s especially great to hear Dan start out early with his always positive, upbeat, analysis of our beloved tigers. And Rich, why don’t you tell everyone how you really feel about Leyland.
Thanks Tigergirl for being the great, sentimental fan that you are. This begins my 50th. year as a Tiger Loyalist. I get more depressed with each passing season, as the game continues its evolution into a business venture by a group of old, rich,
geezers who hire Harvard educated thirty two year old GM’s, to develop a winning baseball team.
Well, I still love the game for what it is: a field of dreams; a dream of hitting a ball 450 feet(45 was good for me), and knowing that your team would go all the way.
The Tigers will win the Central, no doubt. I also said that from 1992- 2005. Even though our Ambassador is gone to the dreaded Yankees, I will become a Jackson fan, or a gulp! Damon fan, or whoever ends up in center. Is Northrup available? We will have the pitching to compete,
and oh yeah, Dan! Old Cripple Knees himself will be at third. And just think rich. Every time a good, sound managerial decision has to be made, your favorite man, minus the Marlboros at the park, will be calling the shots. makes you want to shout for joy,right boys? In my 50th anniversary year as a Tiger fanatic, I proudly say, GO TIGERS!! See you in Washington in June, Rich. That is, if ths snow is melted off of my subdivision road by then.
Greg

anyone remember the last time tigers had 2 rooks batting 1-2 on opening day? i sure can’t. i imagine leyland would get some heartburn handing that lineup card to the umpire.

oh…btw, i sure hope that they are not seriously considering everett for the 2 hole.

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