April 11th, 2010

Why Santiago hit with game on the line

I talked about this in my game story on the Tigers site, but I figured the question’s going to come up: If Johnny Damon was going to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, why not have him hit for Ramon Santiago rather than Gerald Laird?

I asked Jim Leyland about it after the game. If Damon bats in Santiago’s place and draws a walk, it loads the bases for Gerald Laird with Alex Avila and Adam Everett as the remaining two hitters on the bench. And there was a good reason to lean against sending up Avila in that situation.

“I wanted a veteran guy up there,” Leyland said. “That’s why I hit Damon
[for Laird] instead of Avila. I just thought the veteran guy would take
closer pitches for balls. I felt comfortable with Santi. If I hit
Damon [for him], they might walk him, and then I hit Avila for Laird.”

I think it says a lot of what Leyland thinks of Santiago as a hitter, and with good reason. He’s 30 years old now with more than 1,400 Major League plate appearances under his belt.

Sunday: Tigers vs. Indians

A couple days off for some regular Tigers today: Don Kelly starts in place of Johnny Damon in left field, while Ramon Santiago (8-for-15 career off Jake Westbrook) is at short.


  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Kelly, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Santiago, SS
  8. Laird, C
  9. Sizemore, 2B

P: Justin Verlander


  1. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  2. Grady Sizemore, CF
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  4. Travis Hafner, DH
  5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
  6. Matt LaPorta, 1B
  7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  8. Lou Marson, C
  9. Michael Brantley, LF

P: Jake Westbrook