February 7th, 2014

Leyland to work with MLB on replay system

Jim Leyland’s retirement means we won’t have the sight of him challenging a bad a call from the dugout. It appears, however, that Leyland will still be involved in the newly-approved instant replay system.

Leyland will work with his good friend, former Cardinals manager and newly-elected Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, who played a big role in crafting the replay and challenge system.

“Maybe help iron out any kinks, things like that,” Leyland said Thursday. “I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be interesting. It’ll be a historic event. It’s such a monumental thing for baseball.”

Leyland said there’s also a possibility he’ll be visiting teams and managers in spring training to talk about the system and how it’s going to work.

As a longtime, recently-retired manager who was part of the on-field committee that consulted on replay, Leyland makes sense to be part of this. As someone who has had his share of opinions on expanding replay, it’s an interesting add. Leyland said for a long time that if a meaningless home run in a lopsided regular-season game was reviewable, a line drive down the foul line in a close postseason game should be too. At the same time, he was always mindful of the pace of the game. And then, well, Armando Galarraga.

We’ll see what impact he has here. Clearly, though, Leyland isn’t going into retirement kicking back. His MLB work is in addition to his position as a special assistant in the Tigers organization, a job he’ll be doing in Spring Training as well. He’ll be in Tigers camp about a week after the full squad reports.

A lot of Leyland’s Tigers job will apparently involve player evaluation, both inside and potentially outside the organization. He’ll be in attendance for the Tigers’ unofficial Spring Training opener against Florida Southern, and he’ll also stop by minor league camp to do some work there.

“I’ll be watching more as an evaluator and not as a strategist,” Leyland said. “When I’m watching the games, it’ll be different for me. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll be heading down and I’ll be staying out of the way. I’m just thrilled that they asked me to go down.”