February 20th, 2013

Dotel apologizes to Cabrera, team for leadership quotes

Octavio Dotel said he apologized to Miguel Cabrera in front of the team for comments in a Yahoo Sports article in which he suggested Cabrera should take more a leadership role on the team.

“I just want to apologize to Miggy,” Dotel said Wednesday morning. “I’m really sorry, and I hope Miggy doesn’t hate me for that.”

Cabrera later told reporters, “It’s no big deal.”

Dotel was quoted in Yahoo saying Cabrera is “more about his game,” and mentioned other players such as Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander possibly taking a more vocal leadership role.

Dotel suggested the quotes were taken out of context.

“That’s not what I was trying to mean,” Dotel said.

You might remember the exchange between Dotel and Cabrera in the clubhouse in Oakland after the Tigers lost Game 4 of the AL Division Series. Dotel suggested in Spanish that Cabrera needed to talk to reporters and convey a sense of no panic on the team, and Cabrera didn’t talk. Dotel later told MLive.com that he suggested a team meeting but the efforts were rebuffed.

Though the Yahoo story said Dotel also asked for a team meeting after Game 2 of the World Series, Dotel said that wasn’t true.

“Never against the Giants,” Dotel said. “I was hoping [a meeting would happen].”

Jim Leyland said he had no problem getting apologies like that out in the open when a situation pops up.

“I think that kind of stuff’s great,” Leyland said. “I love that kind of stuff.”

The Yahoo article went on to ask whether the Tigers clubhouse needed more leadership, but made no mention of offseason acquisition Torii Hunter, whose leadership abilities have been praised. Victor Martinez, meanwhile, was mentioned only in passing in the article, though his absence last season left the Tigers looking in other directions for clubhouse leadership.

Leyland on bullpen decisions: Somebody won’t be happy

Aside from the infamous Ty Cobb photo with the tear in it, one of the fixtures in Jim Leyland’s office in spring training is a list of pitchers and position players. The pitchers’ list includes the side work they do in early workouts before the games begin.

One by one, Leyland looked down the list at potential bullpen candidates. By the time he got to the bottom of the list (alphabetically) with Brayan Villarreal, he had at least eight candidates for three or four open spots.

“If people are healthy, we’re going to have a real good problem on our hands,” Leyland said Wednesday morning, “because we’ve got a lot of guys. … This is not going to be easy, I’m telling you.”

The safe spots are the setup guys: Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel. After that, in no particular order, there’s Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque, Brayan Villarreal, Darin Downs, Duane Below, Drew Smyly (if he doesn’t make the rotation), Jose Ortega (who has earned praise from Leyland), Luis Marte (who made the team out of camp last year before getting hurt on the final day of Spring Training) and Kyle Lobstein (Rule 5 pick). That’s nine guys, and that includes just guys on the 40-man roster. If you try to make the case for non-roster lefty Jose Alvarez, who some in the organization consider a dark horse, there’s 10 for maybe four spots.

The questions are almost as numerous. Will the Tigers take both Alburquerque and Villarreal out of camp and go with two high-strikeout situation righties? If they do, would they still take a second lefty, since Leyland has shown a willingness to go to one of those guys against a left-handed hitter? How important is long relief for the Tigers in a year when the rotation is deep but they’re trying to watch the workload on their starters? How many seventh- and eighth-inning guys does Detroit need if there’s a closer by committee out of camp?

Fun stuff, and it took up most of Leyland’s morning media session today.