October 19th, 2012
The Tigers are one Cardinals win away from a rematch of the 2006 World Series. They are not going to reprise the way they spent waiting for that World Series to actually get underway.
“We are going to play a couple games,” Leyland told ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning show on Friday.
The Cardinals beat the Tigers in that Fall Classic six years ago, but the Tigers also beat themselves with sloppy fielding and cold bats. Manager Jim Leyland admitted then, and holds to it now, that the six-day wait between the ALCS and the World Series opener killed them.
Leyland won’t let it happen again. With the World Series not opening up until Wednesday in St. Louis or San Francisco, no matter how soon the NLCS wraps up, the Tigers will spend the weekend working out before playing two games against a team of minor-league players from their Florida Instructional League team.
The workout schedule hasn’t been formally announced, but Leyland confirmed it on his radio appearance. Credit Paul Wezner of TigsTown.com with the report on the prospects coming to Detroit.
“We actually have our instructional league team coming to Detroit and we’re going to play a couple of actual games Sunday and Monday and have a workout Saturday as well,” Leyland told Mike and Mike. “We’re going to have our pitchers throw to hitters and we’re going to have our hitters face live pitching. So hopefully we’ll be a little more prepared this time.”
Indeed, a few Tigers prospects tweeted Thursday night that they’re coming to Detroit.
— Joe Rogers (@joerogers24) October 19, 2012
Detroit in the morning! #pumped
— Devon Travis (@DeVoTrAv) October 18, 2012
That’s what’s up! Tigers to the world series. Lucky to be a part of this organization. Going to Detroit tomorrow to check it out!!
— Hudson Randall (@Kid_Huddy) October 19, 2012
Apparently it won’t just be prospects either. Darin Downs, Detroit’s second lefty reliever for the season’s second half before Drew Smyly filled the role on the postseason roster, is also apparently making the trip.
— Darin Downs (@DDowns99) October 19, 2012
I tweeted about this last night, and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian made mention of it in his excellent piece on Jim Leyland from last night’s celebration, but Dave Dombrowski finally cleared up some of the questions about Leyland’s situations during a postgame interview in the Tigers clubhouse. From the quotes:
“Jim Leyland is welcome back here. He knows that. He’s in a situation where we want him back, and I’m sure that he wants to come back. I would think that would be the way. But there’s a time and a place for that. It’s not right now.”
So why the delay?
“It was really his preference,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve known each other so long. We’ll get to this when we need to.”
Leyland confirmed last week that he wants to come back, but he has strongly hinted on several occasions that it’s not a given that he will. As recently as Thursday morning, during his pregame talk with beat writers prior to Game 4 of the ALCS, he used the phrase, “If I manage again …”
Maybe it’s a matter of timing. Maybe it’s a negotiation tactic. Maybe it’s Leyland trying to stay consistent with his stance of not putting the cart before the horse. Or maybe he’s leaving open the possibility of following in Tony La Russa’s footsteps and retiring on top if they win the World Series, though La Russa himself kind of panned that idea Wednesday.
“If I told him that, then he’d manage 10 more years,” La Russa told reporters. “He does the exact opposite of what I tell him. If I tell him how lousy it is, he might retire.”
But at this point, there’s clearly mutual interest in keeping this going.