May 23rd, 2011
Johnny Damon does get the start against former longtime teammate Phil Coke, after all. Andy Dirks, meanwhile, shifts back to the third spot against Jeremy Hellickson, while Brennan Boesch moves back to third.
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Scott Sizemore, 2B
- Brennan Boesch, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- Andy Dirks, LF
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Alex Avila, C
- Brandon Inge, 3B
- B.J. Upton, CF
- Johnny Damon, DH
- Evan Longoria, 3B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Sean Rodriguez, 2B
- Felipe Lopez, 1B
- Kelly Shoppach, C
- Elliot Johnson, SS
- Sam Fuld, LF
One of the things about Jim Leyland is that he doesn’t like repeating himself when he talks to the media. If he address something once, he doesn’t like doing it again. He also says he doesn’t mind second-guessing, but he’ll pick apart an argument if he has the chance.
Which brings us to Leyland’s pregame session this afternoon, when Jeff Riger of WXYT asked him if he was surprised at the fan reaction over his decision to lift Rick Porcello for closer Jose Valverde after eight innings Sunday.
“That’s you guys,” Leyland answered. “You’re a radio guy, aren’t you? Well, that’s radio stuff.”
He wasn’t necessarily talking about the radio medium so much as the talk-show format, apparently.
“I think that’s the entertainment business,” Leyland continued. “I think that’s what we’re in, and I don’t blame any fan ever who second-guesses taking out Rick Porcello. I would never blame somebody like that. But I don’t listen to talk shows, guys that don’t know about baseball. If you’re asking if I listen to those guys, no, I don’t. If I listen to somebody that has a legitimate second-guess like the one yesterday, I respect that opinion. It’s not going to change mine.
“I’ve said a million times that I manage for the fans, not with the fans. I don’t manage with every Tom, Dick and Harry that calls a talk show, I can promise you that. But that one yesterday was a legitimate second-guess. But you know what? Everybody forgets that the Tigers won the game. And if Jose Valverde is not better in the ninth inning than Rick Porcello after eight innings, and Jose Valverde’s a top closer, then we might as well not have a closer. That’s the way I look at it.”
He went a little further into it. And whether or not he listens to the radio, it’s clear he does read quite a bit, because he knew the reaction.
“I don’t get sentimental into all that about, ‘Oh, he has a chance to have a one-hitter.’ I don’t get into all that,” he said. “I’m here to win games, and I felt that gave us the best chance to win the game. And he won the game. It could’ve backfired, and I would’ve still stuck by my decision. So it doesn’t bother me. No, that’s you guys’ business.”
He was still apparently talking about radio and talk shows with that last part.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with that at all,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with talk shows and people’s opinions and arguing and having some fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what you do for a living. But I don’t listen to those people, period.”
Leyland seemed to try to go to length to delineate between fans second-guessing him and radio callers.
“There’s a legitimate fan that calls that show that has real interest and has some knowledge and makes some sense,” he said. “There’s a bunch of other people that call in that don’t know about what they’re talking about. They just want to hear themselves on the radio and hear themselves talk. There is some definite, legitimate second-guessing, which is fine. That’s the sport. That’s fine. They’re interested in the Tigers. They want to know what’s going on. I have no problem with that stuff. But I don’t get into that. It has no bearing on what decision I make.
“Somebody was chewing me out the other day. The fans were second-guessing me because I hadn’t gotten the relievers enough work. Well, if you want me to take Verlander and Scherzer out in the fourth inning from now and pitch Villarreal and Gonzalez, I’ll do it for you. Is that what you want?”
He brought it back to Porcello after that. And he brought it back to repeating himself.
“I don’t blame the fans for second-guessing,” he repeated. “What else do you want me to say? I don’t blame the fans for second-guessing that move. I said it yesterday in my press conference. I explained why I did it. I explained that I didn’t blame them for second-guessing. So what else do you want me to say? Do I wish I had not done it. No, I’m glad I did it. And I’ll do it again tonight if we’ve got the same situation, if I think it gives us the best chance to win the game. “