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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Leyland discusses the lineup shuffle for Game 4, and how it will impact the Tigers' offense

Tigers manager Jim Leyland addressed his move Wednesday of dropping Austin Jackson in the lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. HERE is the story about the move, as well as the lineup itself HERE.

Below is some overflow of the discussion around the move:

• How does top four in lineup stack up, after dropping Austin Jackson to the eighth spot?
LEYLAND: "Basically I just moved everybody up. And that means in the first inning we’ll have (Torii) Hunter, who’s had some success. And you know he’s tough, he’s had some success against (Boston starter Jake) Peavy. And follow it up with two guys that could hit a ball out of the ballpark. Miguel (Cabrera), who is always up in the first inning, obviously, Miguel and Prince (Fielder) will come up in the first inning, Victor (Martinez) behind him. I played Victor behind instead of third because Victor can score Prince. But if you put Miggy and Victor right back‑to‑back, you’re talking about two guys who have to pinch run for them."

• I wonder if you could take us through how difficult it is for a manager to make a decision to either honor the urgency of the moment when you make a lineup change or a shuffle like you did against wanting to stick with the people who got you here in the positions that they were in?
LEYLAND: "Well, I think I’m actually doing Austin Jackson a favor. He’s getting kicked around pretty good right now. I think it’s easy to kick people when they’re down. I’m not taking him out of the lineup, so I am sticking with him. If I was taking guys out of the lineup, when you’re in the postseason you don’t really bench somebody, you might sit them. During the season you bench them for a week or something. There’s not anything like being benched in the postseason.

"I am sticking with him, just a different spot. The strikeouts so far, it’s got to get to you a little bit. And like I said, anybody can kick somebody when they’re down little bit. I just wanted to refresh him, put him lower in the lineup, and hopefully that will relax him a little bit. "You’ve got Torii Hunter and Cabrera and Fielder hitting right in the first inning, that’s pretty good power and we’ve got to try to get on the board somehow. And we know we live with extra base hits and home runs because there’s not much speed up there. But the speed that was up there was not getting on base.

"We maneuvered a little bit. I really thought about this long and hard last night. People were talking — Jeff said maybe, you know, about Kelly. But I didn’t think that was the answer. I thought long and hard, if I could come up with something, I thought long and hard about this, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I really do.

"I mean, we scored one run and no runs in two of the games. It certainly can’t hurt. We’re going to take a shot. If nothing else, when guys look at the lineup card they kind of look at it a little bit. And maybe it wakes you up a little bit. Not that they’ve been sleeping, they’ve been great games. Just a little something to, you know, churn up the butter a little bit."

(Leyland circled back to the issue as part of the answer to another question ...)
"But I guess that we don’t all agree, you don’t always agree with me, and I don’t always agree with you. But I think this is one thing we both agree on, we had to do something. I thought we had to shake it up a little bit. I think most of the writers and the broadcasters and the media people agree that we had to do something.

"I’m certainly not turning my back on Austin Jackson, he’s in the lineup. I think I need him in there for Fister. I think down in the bottom of the lineup it could help us. We’ve got speed with Iglesias, Jackson and Infante. Is it going to help? I can’t answer that.

"I agree with all you people and I think you agree with me on this one; we had to do something. It’s a little bit of a shocker, but, hey, you know, postseason, let’s try something. I’m not afraid to try something.

"Like I said, I thought long and hard about this last night. I wrote it down. It looks pretty good. I checked with a couple of people, and a couple people really liked it. My coaches were on board, they liked it. I even went as far as to make sure that Mac (hitting coach Lloyd McClendon) texted every player today, so they weren’t shocked when they came to the ballpark and saw a different lineup card. We made them aware of it a lot earlier this morning or a lot earlier in the day. And everybody’s on board.

"Like I said, we’ve got to try something. We’ve got to get on the board somehow. We’ve got to get some runs. You can’t really change players. We’ve had Dirksy (Andy Dirks) in there, we’ve had Kelly in there, (Ramon) Santiago, and (Hernan) Perez haven’t been in there. But it’s not like you can grab two or three different players and put them in the lineup. You’ve got to be creative with what we’ve got. That’s what I tried to do, for better or worse."

• You said you had Mac text the players to make sure nobody was shocked. I wonder when you make such a big lineup adjustment, is it a concern of yours to not have your players think that maybe there’s a little panic involved, you know what I mean?
LEYLAND: " I can’t cover everything. You guys wanted me to change something, and now you want to find the flaw in something we changed. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. And I really wanted to give you guys something to write about and talk about. This should be a good time for you.

"You can say I’m nuts, you can say I’m dumb, you can say whatever you want. It does give you something to write about. Other than Jackson struck out 18 times, Leyland needs to do something. So here it is, have a good time with it. We’ll see how it plays out. And I will be willing to answer the questions after the game."


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