Jim Leyland’s contract is up after the season and not so long ago there was speculation that Detroit may look to replace him, but obviously reaching the World Series has wiped away any chance of the Tigers wanting to get rid of the 67-year-old manager.
General manager Dave Dombrowski made it clear yesterday that he wants Leyland back, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com:
Jim Leyland is welcome back here. He knows that. He’s in a situation where we want him back, and I’m sure that he wants to come back. I would think that would be the way. But there’s a time and a place for that. It’s not right now.
Dombrowski added that waiting to negotiate a new deal “was really [Leyland’s] preference” and “we’ve known each other so long, we’ll get to this when we need to.”
There’s seemingly little chance of Leyland managing elsewhere next season, but Beck wonders if he might decide to retire if the Tigers win the World Series, like Tony La Russa did last year.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉