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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's in a lineup?

Tigers manager Jim Leyland was asked a simple question about his lineup earlier this week, and it precipitated one of his patented media-session blowups.

The question? Whether or not Andy Dirks had played his way into an outfield rotation, even with the return of Magglio Ordonez.

Why do I write this now? Because Dirks has now played twice as many times on this road trip as Ordonez has, starting Sunday's finale against the Rockies. Is that an important, long-term trend? Probably not. But what it does say is that the question about Dirks is valid, at least in the short term. As of right now, he's gotta be considered part of the outfield platoon.

Here's the diatribe:

I’m not going to discuss lineups with you guys. Don’t ask me about the lineup. Read the lineup card: That’s who’s playing.
Magglio’s going to play three out of four.
This is what my plan is: Magglio just got back, he played last night. He will play the next two days. He’s not playing tonight, because right-handed hitters are hitting .190 against this guy (Cleveland's Justin Masterson), and left-handers are hitting .314. That’s why he’s not playing tonight. And he will play the next two games.
I’m not going to do this about the lineup every day. The lineup is going to be posted. Write whatever you want about it. But I’m not going to explain the lineup. That’s my lineup. That’s the lineup I think gives this team the best chance to win this game tonight, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to get into lineups. If you guys want to make a better lineup, do whatever you want. That’s up to you. But I’m not going to get into lineups. Everybody’s (bleeping) hung up on lineups all the time. Makes me sick. Don’t worry about it. Write the (bleeping) lineup down, and that’s what it is. If you don’t like it, say I don’t like Jim Leyland’s lineup. That’s fine. I don’t care. No arguments, no problems. That’s your business. I don’t have any problem with that.
I’m just making a point, I’m not going to talk about lineups. That’s what I do here. I make out the lineup. Why do I have to get questions on the lineup? If you want to question it, question it wherever you want. But I’m not going to explain my lineup every day. I mean, I have a reason for the lineup I have tonight. I’m not going to explain it every day. This is the lineup I think gives us the best chance tonight. This guy, .194 is what right-handers are hitting against this guy. Magglio just got back. He’s not sharp yet. He’s going to play three out of four. So if he’s going to play three out of four, I’m not going to play him against this guy. And it’s no day at the beach tomorrow against (Fausto) Carmona. But righties are hitting .245 off Carmona, and lefties .255, so there’s not much of a difference. But this is a huge difference.
I don’t know if Dirks is going to do anything.

Again, there's probably nothing more important to this lineup than any other. But that doesn't mean it's not valid to wonder why your $10 million slugger — who stayed on his Triple-A rehab stint until he declared himself "ready" — is on the bench. Even if it is just a matter of going with a good low-ball hitter (Dirks) when facing a sinker-ball pitcher in Colorado's Aaron Cook. It's still a platoon.


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