Leyland: Sitting Delmon last night was my decision
Jim Leyland had hinted as far as back as late last week that he was thinking about DHing Prince Fielder and sitting Delmon Young against Indians sinkerballer Justin Masterson.
Then last night, Leyland hinted on his pregame radio show that Young didn’t want to face Masterson, which led to the argument on sports radio stations that Young might have pulled himself out of the lineup.
Leyland, whose quotes (taken correctly or not) caused the commotion, tried to clear it up during his pregame remarks Wednesday.
The decision for Young to not play, Leyland said, was a “managerial decision. That was planned four or five days ahead of time. If Delmon was going to get a blow, it was going to be a guy that he was 3-for-20 off of, that he doesn’t have any success with. I would say it was a mutual decision.”
The mutual part, Leyland seemed to suggest, was about what day to give Young a rest.
“This is what I believe about that, and a lot of people don’t realize this: Delmon Young is swinging so good right now, and you get a guy that he struggles with like Masterson, it might put him in a slump for three or four days. So it made a lot of sense,” Leyland said. “If you’re going to give him a blow, that’s when you’re going to do it. I mean, it’s in the book: 3-for-20. He doesn’t handle him very well. …
“If I would’ve wanted Delmon Young to play, he would’ve played. You look for matchups all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way because of what your choices are. The choices here were a lot of left-handed hitters that do a lot better against Masterson. That was as simple as A-B-C. That’s a no-brainer.”
Young declined to talk before batting practice Wednesday.
I’ll say this: One thing consistent about Leyland is that he lets matchups dictate his lineup with a lot of guys (ok, maybe not Ryan Raburn). He has sat players for bad numbers with far fewer at-bats, even guys on a tear. It’s still worth noting that Young was in the starting lineup when the Tigers faced the Indians May 24 in Cleveland. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He still had three hits in his next game in Minnesota.
“Sometimes guys are in a good groove, and you want to leave them in a good groove,” Leyland said. “So you give them some miserable matchup and you take them out of the lineup for that day. It’s just like some lefty that’s swinging good and you’ve got a nasty left-handed pitcher, you might not play him because you don’t want him to get his swing screwed up for the next righty that he’s going to face. This was an absolute no-brainer for me. Masterson gives Delmon fits. I mean, he’s 3-for-20 with five strikeouts.”