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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leyland clarifies decision to sit Delmon Young

Who asked whom? Who said what?

There was a lot of uncertainty about whose idea it was for arguably the Tigers’ hottest hitter, Delmon Young, did not start Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians starter Justin Masterson.

Was it because his manager, Jim Leyland, told him not to?

Or was it because he asked?

As it turns out, a little of both — maybe.

“Managerial decision. That was planned. Well, I’ll clarify that. That was planned four or five days ahead of time, that Delmon was going to get a blow, and it was going to be a guy he was 3-for-20 off of, and didn’t have any success with. So I would say it was a mutual decision,” Leyland said Wednesday, when he was asked to clarify the situation, in light of conflicting stories.

“But I don’t want to make it sound like Delmon didn’t want to play.”

Young came into the game 7-for-15 on the homestand, and hitting .329 since his last day off, 22 games earlier.

“That really upsets me about the Delmon thing. That was a no-brainer. That was a total no-brainer, and that was set up four or five days. Prince was going to get off his feet for a day, it’s the day Delmon is not going to play against Masterson. I just don’t understand all that stuff,” Leyland said.

“Sometimes guys are hot, and in a good groove, and you want to leave them in a good groove, so you give them some miserable matchup, you take them out of the lineup for that day, so they don’t (get out of it). Just like if you’ve got some lefty that’s swinging good, and you’ve got a nasty left-handed pitcher, you might not play him, because you don’t want to him to get screwed up, his swing to get screwed up for the next righty he’s going to face.

“This was an absolute no-brainer for me. A no-brainer. Masterson gives Delmon fits. I’m thinking about it. He’s 3-for-20 with five strikeouts. I think sometimes when people question the lineup, I think it makes sense, I think their question is legitimate, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense.

“After a while, you get sensitive to that, because you get tired of explaining the silly (crap).”

Despite the pre-planning, the lineup switch was an issue Tuesday afternoon, as everyone involved anticipated it would be. Young did not start, although he eventually entered the game in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter, and made the game’s final out.

It became an issue again on Wednesday, when re-hashing of Leyland’s explanation on his pregame radio show with Dan Dickerson was vague enough to call the decision-making process into question again.

The transcription of the clip, as played on 97.1-FM Wednesday afternoon:

LEYLAND: “He’s real nasty on right-hand pitching (meant hitting). A lot of people say, ‘Well Delmon’s really hot. You’re crazy, you gotta play him.’ Well Delmon doesn’t really want to face Masterson, because of the way he runs that ball in on him. He’s tough on him.

And I’ll tell you what: I like it when a player is honest about stuff like that, says ‘Hey, I struggle with a guy like that.’ That’s when you do pick your day, as I’ve talked about my whole career here, to play somebody else. Donnie Kelly is like 5-for-16 or 5-for-15 off him, this has been set up for four or five days. Get Prince off his feet for a day. This is the day he’s going to DH. Delmon’s not there to DH, Prince is going to take that spot over today, going to play Donnie Kelly at first base. That’s all the stuff that goes in when people talk about lineups constantly.”

That left it open to interpretation that Young had asked out of a game, in the middle of a pennant race.

That led to pregame questions of the manager, for the second straight day.

He answered most of them, but didn’t necessarily enjoy it.

“Let’s not get into some (crap). Let’s not get into any silly (crap), searching for something. Delmon Young was going to be off against Masterson, because it made all the sense in the world, and when you’ve got a guy that is 3-for-20 off a guy, unless it’s just a totally different situation, and if you’re going to give him a rest, that’s when you do it,” the manager said.

“And that makes all the sense in the world. So don’t be looking for (crap). There’s no sense looking for (crap) here. That’s what you do, and that’s how you manage, and that’s what players do. When you’ve got a guy that’s 3-for-20 off a guy and you’ve got somebody else who is 5-for-15, you play the guy that is 5-for-15. That’s pretty simple logic, fellas. So, let’s not be looking for (crap). Let’s move on.”

The lineup questions have always been among Leyland’s least favorite topics to harp on, so it’s not a surprise. He let loose Tuesday, telling fans to feel free to send their lineups in to reporters by email.

And he just doesn’t understand the hangup fans have.

“Some of that stuff gets to the point where it gets irritating. If you want to say, ‘God damn, Cleveland beat you the last two games, you didn’t hit well,’ OK. I’ll take that. That’s on me,” Leyland said. “But lineups, it’s just not a fair question to me. Sometimes people have favorite players they want to play. Some people were pissed off when I didn’t play Brandon Inge every day this year, other people wanted to run him out of town. So you’re in a no-win situation. But that’s silly stuff.”


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