Leyland's status with Tigers still up in the air after World Series comes to an end
After playing out the end of the expiring one-year contract he agreed to late last season, there’s still a decision to be made on the future of Jim Leyland as the manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Will he return? Or not?
In the wake Sunday night of the World Series sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, even he did not know.
“I don’t really know that. We’re going to talk about some things in a day or so. And I’m sure they’ll have some type of an announcement,” Leyland said. “But tonight’s not the night for that.”
No, Sunday night was for the stocking-footed, 67-year-old manager to quietly make his way around the somber locker room, handing out thanks, hugs and handshakes to his players.
But the questions persist.
He met with a small group of reporters in the clubhouse hallway to answer some of them.
Does he want to be back?
“Well ... I like to manage, you know? Contrary to what some people think, I think I’m pretty good at it. A lot of people don’t agree with that. I’m not the best, and I’m not the worst,” said Leyland, who has led the Tigers to two pennants, two division titles and three playoff appearances in seven seasons on the bench in Detroit.
“I think that, since 2006, we’ve changed the culture around here. We’ve been in two World Series in the last seven years. That’s not bad.
“I just want to wait for the right time.”
Some of that is the manager’s own insistence on his contract status not being a distraction. While general manager and team president Dave Dombrowski has said that Leyland would be welcomed back, neither man has gone further than that in discussing the situation.
“I think it is something I’d still rather talk about after the season. I think his preference is for us to deal with it (after),” Dombrowski said at the team workout between the American League Championship Series and the World Series.
“We’ve known each other a long, long time, and we talk on a daily basis about a lot of different things — basically anything with the ballclub. So that’s how he’d like to handle it, and that’s how we’ll handle it.”
If the one side would like to come back, and the other side would like to have him back, it begs the question — what’s the hold up? Are there other considerations? Staff changes? Another team in the equation?
“I can give you this tonight. This is all I can give you: I will not be managing anybody else but the Detroit Tigers, next year. Unless it’s the Mt. Lebanon Tigers, in Pittsburgh, Pa.,” said Leyland, who’s already made four different stops in his 21-year managerial career. “But I’m not looking, in any way, shape, or form, to go anyplace else. This is my last stop.”
That leaves the option of retirement. Does the fire still burn to manage?
“Well, I hope I showed that this year. I took a lot of beatings. I got put against the ropes quite a few times this year. I think I survived it all right,” Leyland said.
“Like I said, I never out-managed anybody, and I like to think that I never got out-managed.
“I don’t get into that stuff. I get into my players, my team, putting them in the right spot. Everybody else can think what they want. That’s up to them.
“That’s OK. I’ve enjoyed it. I like it here. Contrary to what people think, I like the writers, I like the whole scenario. The writers are fair.
“I think some of the punches I took this year were certainly fair. A lot of them not. But that’s OK. That’s part of this business. This is not a place for the weak, the faint of heart. Especially when you have as passionate fans as they have in Detroit. Because they’re into it. And thank God they are.
“But it’s been great. It’s been fun. We made it to the World Series. Pretty good.”
The players in the locker room shared that sentiment — but they may or may not know any more about the situation than anyone else.
Asked how important it was that Leyland comes back to the Tigers, staff ace Justin Verlander did not equivocate.
“No, it’s very important. Skipper and I, we have a great relationship. I love playing for him, my whole career, thus far,” Verlander said.
“I, for one, am extremely glad he’s coming back. I love playing for him. It’s an honor. In my opinion, he’s going to be a Hall of Fame manager. Being able to play for a guy like that, not a lot of people get to say they did.”
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