Friday’s notes: About that closer, coach Leyland …

Say this for Jim Leyland: If he wanted to show his patience with the media, his closer situation is giving him a pretty good test.

When camp opened earlier this week, Leyland tried to make his point from the get-go that he wouldn’t give daily updates on rookie Bruce Rondon or the Tigers’ closer situation in general. Since then, he has gotten a new question about it from a new set of writers each day, including Friday.

Another question didn’t take place during his media session, but Leyland said he was asked by somebody at some point what he thought of Rondon as the closer so far. Whoever asked it, Leyland said, also called him coach.

That’s a brutal reference for a lot of managers. Leyland, however, said he brushed it off.

“Coach never offends me,” Leyland said. “A lot of people take offense, but I don’t care.”

This is not the response one would expect from a supposed old-school manager.

Football, basketball and hockey teams have head coaches. College, high school and other amateur baseball teams have head coaches. Baseball teams also have hitting coaches, pitching coaches, base coaches and bullpen coaches. Many have strength and conditioning coaches. A few of them even have batting practice coaches. But at the professional level, the guy in charge is the manager, not the head coach.

The only other major sport where you commonly hear the term “manager” used is European football (soccer) when referring to some director or general manager duties, but also the on-field duties of the head coach.

That started a discussion.

“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Leyland said. “I know it affects some guys. I don’t give a care. What’s the difference? Who cares? I know I’m the manager. At least, I think I know.”

The rest of the first day of full-squad workouts wasn’t as busy as expected, simply because the weather forced the Tigers indoors for a lot of work. Other than playing catch and running a little, position players spent the morning in the indoor batting cages.

With that in mind, other notes from Friday …

  • As exciting as Spring Training can be for young players trying to make the team, there might be few players more excited to be here than Octavio Dotel. For the first time since 2008-2009, the well-traveled reliever did not have to change teams between seasons. “It’s very special,” Dotel said Friday morning, “and hopefully at the trade deadline [in July] I’m not going to be on the news.”
  • Count Dotel, by the way, among the Tigers raving about Rondon, but not for the physical attributes. “The good thing,” Dotel said, “is he listens.” Dotel has been talking with him about the attributes of a good closer. The key, he said, is to relax when you enter a game and be able to control your adrenaline.
  • Kenny Rogers arrived at camp Friday afternoon after workouts. The former Tigers starter expected to begin his guest instruction on Saturday, working with pitchers on fielding and holding baserunners. At age 48, he does not look different than he did when he retired in 2008.
  • As Friday’s main story on the home page explains, Miguel Cabrera arrived at camp not looking to rest on the laurels of a Triple Crown. As he talked about his focus in offseason workouts, it became clear he wants to do more at third base. He concentrated his efforts on lower-body strength and quickness, and he wants to get a better first step when he moves side-to-side so that he can get to more ground balls. He’s going to do the same extra work taking grounders early in the morning that he did last spring, until he heads out to the World Baseball Classic to play for Team Venezuela.
  • The lower-body strength is also interesting when you keep in mind that he’ll turn 30 years old in April. As players age, the same weight that they handled well when they were younger can become a burden on the knees. Considering he has been in the big leagues since he was 20, Cabrera has been amazingly durable his entire career, not just with Detroit. This could be a big step towards staying that way.

18 Comments

Manager is used only in british soccer. The trainer( in spanish, entrenador), or head coach are the words in the other leagues. The players call the head coach or trainer :the Mister

I suppose not knowing the terminology indicates little knowledge of the sport.
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Kenny Rogers will probably be gone before we arrive down there, so I won’t have to keep a constant eye on the whereabouts of my wife.

Great thread Jason. I agree to move on from too much discussion about “the closer”. With our line up we will not have many save situations :) I used to think Kenny was a jerk until I got to know him as a Tiger. The media can get to you with all their brainless questions. Rich, just ’cause Kenny “might” be gone…….just sayin. Still jealous as we go to Florida on Spring Break and miss the training. Go Tigers!

“But at the professional level, the guy in charge is the manager, not the head coach.” Never really gave this a thought, but spot on. My son has a high school baseball coach. And a Legion ball coach. But pro baseball calls it manager. Interesting . But still alot of coaching going on in Lakeland including by Leyland. Sounds in PFP he was stressing the importance of pushing down on ball when P is barehanding ball to pick up.

so what about referring to the manager of a pro baseball team as “Skipper” or “skip”? Is that OK?

Absolutely okay. I think their wives call them that too. ;-)

Good one Evan! I like using skipper. Also, I like Leyland a little more. I would “manage” a little different but I know Jimmy has the respect of his players.

MASN posted today on former Tigers Jurrjens, only 27-years-old and an AS in 2011. He is in the Orioles camp on a minor league deal. Apparently there are still questions about his knee. My, how quickly the mighty can fall.

re: jurrjens – my how unfairly DD was chastised for that trade.
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off topic entirely, but today I ordered a Jim Price jersey/tshirt. I figure anyone who knows Price no. 12 is someone worth talking too.

The trade was bad.
1. Jurrjens remained a good pitcher longer than Renteria a Good SS for the Tigers
2. Renteria had a previous experience in the AL and was equally bad
3. The trade was based on the hypothesis that Inge would cover his back due to the poor range of Renteria. Once they trade for Miguel, the point became moot. That made it bad trade. There was no need to hurry to trade for Renteria. Even if there was no way to know that Loria would make Miguel available.
4. Renteria was signed under DD and Avila by the Marlins. They thought that he was as good as they expected. Ad he was , playing in the NL.

The mighty can fall? he is young man whose career was slowed by an accident and may be ended by an injury. That hardly a motive to rejoice

No one should rejoice at Jurrjens’ circumstances. This is a career and livelihood at stake.

And frankly, I cannot understand how people can even consider that situation in those terms.

it was bad – but not entirely DDs fault. And regardless, it isn’t looking AS BAD as when JJ was an AS. I wish the best for JJ either way, however.

very interesting discussion regarding whether AJ should steal more or not: http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/2/12/3982836/should-austin-jackson-really-steal-more-bases

I actually really hoped that Tigs would give Jurrjens that minor league deal. It was Jair and Grady Sizemore that I wanted the Tigs to pick up this offseason. I mean, minor league deals are incredibly low risk. You get a guy that isn’t old at all, by MLB standards, that has produced All Star quality seasons, and that will at least give you a big ticket draw at your AAA affiliate while providing “insurance” and the best you may get that bounceback season of a lifetime… a healthy and fully productive Sizemore vastly outproduces Dirks in LF (as consistent as the young man has been) and the same can be said about Jurrjens compared to Ricky P or Smyly. I LOVE a minor league deal with invite to camp for guys like this and I don’t why DD doesn’t make more of these type of moves.

agreed

Per MLBTR, JL now thinks of Dirks as an everyday player but would like a RHB to spell him.

Against tough LHPs.

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