Leyland to manage Team USA in World Baseball Classi
In case you missed it, Jim Leyland is returning to managing one more time, albeit for country rather than for a big-league team. USA Baseball named him Friday as the manager for Team USA in next spring’s World Baseball Classic.
From Jon Morosi’s story currently live on MLB.com:
“I’ll definitely be ready,” Leyland told MLB.com during a telephone interview. “I’m never going to manage again after this. I didn’t think I’d manage this, either. But when I was asked, I could not turn this down. Not from an ego standpoint, but it’s the honor of being asked to manage for your country.
“This is probably going to take me a little time, to start thinking about game situations, to sharpen up again. Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don’t try to manage the game anymore. I just watch the Tigers, watch the game, watch the players. I don’t think too much about the strategy. That’s not my business anymore, not my job anymore.
“I’m not going to be a manager anymore, but this is a special thing that came up. I agreed to it right away. I’m very honored.”
He’s the second Tigers official in as many months named to a managerial post for the World Baseball Classic. Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel will manage for his native Venezuela.
Though Leyland is 71, age shouldn’t be a factor in what is a relatively short tournament, far different from the daily grind of the Major League season. Joe Torre managed the U.S. team three years ago at age 72.
Nor should Leyland have any problem connecting with superstars, considering the level of respect for him in the game. More interesting to follow will be how he handles playing time. He was lukewarm about this event when it first started because of the timing, taking players away from camps for much of Spring Training and ramping up their playing time more aggressively than if they were in their regular camp. It’ll also be interesting if Leyland takes a utility player or two (no, not Ryan Raburn) to provide some late-game versatility.
In any case, it’s a great honor for him, and it’ll be good to see him managing one more time in search of a title. The Americans have yet to make it to the championship game.