March 30th, 2011
The Tigers have officially set their Opening Day roster. We already knew the 25-man roster, but the formality moves came Wednesday. Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya went on the 15-man disabled list, while infielder Audy Ciriaco was outrighted to Double-A Erie.
By outrighting Ciriaco, the Tigers clear a spot on the 40-man roster for reliever Enrique Gonzalez, who made the big club as a non-roster invitee in Spring Training. The Tigers officially purchased Gonzalez’s contract Wednesday.
At least, he won’t be talking about it anymore. The question came up this morning before the Tigers worked out, and it was put down.
“If we do all right, I assume I’ll be here. If we don’t, I probably won’t be.”
Leyland, of course, is in the last year of his contract, as is team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. But there has been a lot more speculation about Leyland’s situation than Dombrowski’s situation. And, well, it’s safe to say Leyland has been reading.
“People write about all this pressure,” he said. “There’s no pressure on me other than to win games. I love to win baseball games. I want to win a division and get to the postseason. Other than that, there’s no pressure on me whatsoever. I’m not going to listen to that silly stuff about the last year of my contract. I’ve been going through that for a hundred years. I don’t really give a care about that, and I’m not going to discuss it.
“I’ve been reading all this and that. It’s simple. If you don’t win, people point fingers. Sometimes it’s the manager. Sometimes it’s the players. Sometimes it’s the general manager. But it doesn’t make any difference to me. We’re out here to win games. If we’re in the middle of a game, we’re not thinking about our jobs. We’re thinking about how to beat the other team, win as many games as we can. That’s what we do for a living.
“So I’m not going to discuss all that silly stuff. That’s for the writers to gossip about and put in the paper and all that. I’ve been reading that stuff for a while now. I don’t pay any attention to that. I mean, they know in Japan that this is the last year of my contract, because it’s been written about enough.”
The quotes came out of a question about his status, but also out of a question about the high expectations the Yankees always seem to have. Leyland bristled at the notion of World Series or bust expectations for any manager, but he also kind of talked about expectations in Detroit.
“I can’t tell you how it’s going to play out. I think we have a very, very good ballclub. I’m very happy with it. We all know we did some things, we spent some money. So did some other teams. But it doesn’t always correlate to winning. But I feel very comfortable with what we did. We accomplished two of the things that were right at the top of our list in the offseason thanks to Mr. Ilitch and Dave. We were able to land a couple players. But I don’t know how it’s going to play out. It’s not going to change how we go about our business.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 21 years as a manager. You give your best effort every day and you put your team out there and you compete. It’s nothing different. Nothing’s going to change. I’ve been under one-year contracts. I’ve been under five-year contracts. And it’s never changed anything I do, and it never will.”
Later, he brushed off the idea of being occupied with the contract.
“I learned a long time ago from my dad, it was the best advice I ever had: If you go to work worried about your job, you don’t have a job. And I’ve never worried about a job. All I’ve worried about is doing the best I can and trying to manage my tail off, and that’s never going to change. And if somebody thinks I’ve done a good enough job managing, I’ll continue to manage. If they don’t, I won’t. It’s that simple.
“But that’s the end of that stuff for the whole year. I’m not talking about that.”
After figuring Jim Leyland would go with Victor Martinez behind the plate and an extra right-handed hitter against CC Sabathia, he threw a change and went with his standard lineup. Alex Avila will catch. Will Rhymes will bat second and play second. Ryan Raburn will bat sixth.
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Will Rhymes, 2B
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Ryan Raburn, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Brandon Inge, 3B
9. Alex Avila, C
Starting pitcher: Justin Verlander
One more thing: Leyland indicated that Brennan Boesch will be in left Saturday.
It’s a beautiful morning in New York — cool, but not cold, and plenty of sun to go around. Great day for players to work out and get used to the northern climate again as they adjust to leaving Florida, where it was the upper 80s just a few days ago.
The forecast for tomorrow, on the other hand … yikes. We might find out why they schedule an off-day after the season opener, just in case they need to postpone.