February 13th, 2011
Jim Leyland has a very lucrative contract to manage the Tigers. Patrick Leyland, on the other hand, received a nice but modest signing bonus to turn pro after the Tigers drafted him last summer.
On the other hand, Patrick Leyland was traveling on business with his dad, and he wasn’t a tag-along. So when they got to the airport in Pittsburgh and had time to spare before their flight to Florida took off, it was the younger Leyland who picked up the bill for breakfast.
The skipper, old school as he is, had two eggs and hashbrowns. The son went with the wrap.
“It was cool,” Patrick Leyland said Sunday. “We just BS’ed a little bit. It was good. It’s kind of different, but it’s a cool experience, too. I don’t really look at it as flying down with the manager or anything. It’s still just dad. So I don’t read too much into it.”
Still, he admits, “It’s a cool experience, I think probably moreso for me than it is for him.”
It’s a pretty cool experience for dad, too. After more than 40 years of Spring Trainings, they should all run together. This one was different, he said, because his son is a part of it. They’re going to enjoy it as much as they can.
At some point this spring, of course, the younger Leyland won’t be part of this camp. Patrick Leyland is a teenage catcher, eight months removed from high school graduation and the draft. At some point, his dad will call him into the office and tell him he’s being sent to Minor League camp. The future is his.
Jim Leyland, on the other hand, is a veteran manager trying to put together a winning team. He’s also in the final year of his current contract. For him, the future is now.
Patrick Leyland isn’t going to let his job get in the way of his father’s. It was fitting, then, that while they walked into the clubhouse together when they arrived Saturday, they went in different directions as soon as they got through the doorway. Dad turned left and went to his old office. Son turned his right and found his locker in the other corner of the clubhouse, where the non-roster invites are put.
“He’s very busy getting his team ready, and that’s what he’s here for,” Patrick said. “He’s got a big job to do. He’s got a lot on his plate, and I’ve got a lot on mine.”
It’s the job, Patrick says, that’s the easy part of this odd situation.
“Honestly, I think that’s the thing that’s the least strange, the baseball stuff,” he said. “I mean, you’re doing it with different people, guys you’ve been around for a while that are good players. But that’s why you’re here. That’s the second nature part. Being around everyone is the part that’s kind of odd. But once you get out there, that’s kind of second nature.”
He has a simple goal.
“I just want to stay here as long as I can and pick up as much as I can,” Patrick said, “and really observe these guys that have been doing it for years and years, how they go about their daily business and that kind of stuff. Obviously developing is why you’re here, but to pick up how they handle themselves and how they go about their day is something that I definitely want to take with me.”
To do away with the biggest question of Spring Training, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Saturday he would leave Carlos Guillen to the team’s medical staff and trainers as he rehabs from microfracture knee surgery. On Sunday, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand confirmed the obvious, that Guillen will be limited in the early part of camp.
How limited, Rand didn’t want to try to answer until he could see Guillen later this week. Position players aren’t scheduled to report until Thursday, and Guillen has traditionally come in close to reporting day.
From there, expect a good amount of work in the weight room, and a pretty big focus on his agility as he tries to show he’s ready to handle second base. If he can do it in time for Opening Day, it’ll be some of the best news possible for Tigers personnel, who aren’t going to turn down the chance at a switch-hitting middle infielder with a track record of run production.
“The first big thing is to get him healthy,” Leyland said. “The second big thing is to see what he’s got left.”
By most measures, Sunday was a relatively quiet morning for the Tigers, quieter than most days earlier in the week. But it was a milestone day, as the final hours of Detroit’s offseason ticked away.
Officially, pitchers and catchers reported to camp Sunday. Unofficially, the vast majority of them have already been in camp for several days. Victor Martinez made a brief appearance Sunday, as reportedly did Joaquin Benoit. As of Sunday afternoon, only a handful or so of Tigers pitchers and catchers had yet to report. That won’t be a big deal; the real deadline is Monday morning, when the team meets at 9:30.
It’ll be a highly anticipated morning for many players, ready to get moving towards the season and to see what they have in what looks on paper like a stacked pitching staff.
“I feel like I’m more excited to get started now than I ever have,” said Ryan Perry, whose locker this spring will be next to that of Benoit.