Leyland upbeat about Tigers camp

Jim Leyland doesn’t usually talk a lot about the vibe of a spring training without being prompted. He says even less about a team chemistry, as a Tigers fan might imagine.

But there he was on Saturday, bringing up his feelings on how Spring Training has played out so far.

“I’m really happy about this group,” Leyland said. “I’m really excited. What’s really happened so far is that the veteran players have been tremendous. And when the veteran players by into your program, that’s big.”

The cooperation of the veterans is big to Leyland, because of the example it sets for the younger players. Win over your veterans, the thinking goes, and your younger players will follow.

“We’ve got really good personalities. And I see some guys who were a little more reserved being a little more gregarious.”

One example Leyland used is how shortstops Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago have tried to make the adjustment easier for second baseman Scott Sizemore. They’ve put in their time working with him on turning double plays on the back fields at Tigertown, but they’ve also been giving Sizemore advice on a lot of things.

“Everett’s been helping him out,” Leyland said. “He’s really been a blessing for us. Adam Everett, he’s as fine a human being as you’re going to meet.”

 But Leyland could just as easily look at how Tigers outfielders have taken to the addition of Johnny Damon, who has meshed in with the clubhouse as if he belonged in Detroit all along.

Other tidbits from Saturday:

  • Brandon Inge is thinking he’ll be ready to play in Spring Training games within a week. If these were big regular-season games, Inge thinks he’d be able to play now. Obviously, these early Spring Training games don’t quite fit that category.
  • Leyland has said in recent days that this is the most prospects and young talent that he has had in a Spring Training camp. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t rather be a player. “I’d trade 19 years of managing for five years of playing,” Leyland said. “I can tell you that. My pension wouldn’t be as good. Like I’ve said, I never wanted to be John McGraw. I wanted to be Yogi Berra.”
  • Look for lots of regulars Sunday for the Tigers’ second trip to Dunedin in five days to take on the Blue Jays. Every Tigers outfielder except Clete Thomas is scheduled to be on the trip. So is Gerald Laird and three other catchers. Miguel Cabrera and Ramon Santiago are the lone infielders not on the travel squad.

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