Leyland on Raburn: “I probably screwed him up”
One year ago around this time, Ryan Raburn was on his way to getting booed out of Detroit. His experiment as the Tigers’ regular second baseman was going horribly, offensively and defensively, and the fan response was growing.
Manager Jim Leyland waited it out, hoping Raburn would get that one hit to spark him on the kind of roll that he gets on — the kind of roll he’s on right now. It never happened, and it was probably the decision fans critiqued the most during Leyland’s oft-questioned contract year.
Now, as Raburn returns to Detroit in a Cleveland Indians uniform coming off AL Player of the Week honors for going 11-for-12 with four home runs in a four-game stretch, Leyland is trying to put the blame on himself for Raburn not working out as an everyday player.
“Everybody knows what I think of Ryan Raburn,” Leyland said. “I always have, and I always will. And I know he’s a talented player, and if he gets comfortable again he’s going to do well. I think I probably screwed him up last year making him a second baseman. If I had played him part-time in the outfield and moved him around and not just had high expectations, he’d have probably been fine. So I’ll take the responsibility for that. He’s a talented guy.
“It was probably my fault. I just thought maybe we could get 15 home runs out of him playing second base. It didn’t work, so it’s my mistake.”
(A reminder worth noting: At this point last year, second base had been a black hole in Detroit for some time. Omar Infante’s play last fall and this season has made that easy to forget.)
That said, it won’t be Leyland getting booed when Raburn is introduced. Leyland is hoping it isn’t Raburn getting booed.
“First of all, from a normal situation, I don’t like to get any player on any team get booed unless he’s not giving an effort,” Leyland said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s my team or anybody else’s team. I don’t like to see anybody get booed. If a guy’s not giving an effort, whether it be a manager, a coaching staff, pitching coach, whoever it may be, then you deserve what you get. But if a guy’s giving an honest effort every day and putting out and busting his tail, I don’t like to see anybody get booed.
“I don’t get any satisfaction seeing any player booed from any team. I mean, this is a hard game to play. It’s a funny game. You just don’t know.”