08/03/08 2:25 PM ET
Leyland won't hesitate to make changes
Tigers manager says he will not tolerate the lack of production
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"If people don't start stepping it up, you got to go in different directions," said the visibly frustrated Tigers skipper. "Whether it's calling people up [from Triple-A Toledo] or making other changes."
The Tigers dropped three straight games prior to Sunday's series finale vs. the Rays and Leyland said he has been "disgusted" -- not with the team's effort -- by the lack of production.
"It's embarrassing," he said. "This is a good team we are playing, but we're a good team, too. ... We're too good to be playing like this. I'm ashamed to be playing like this. But maybe I'm the one who's got us overrated, but that's my situation.
"This is not some kind of a threat. I really like this team. But you got to do better. I can't keep putting them in the lineup or giving them the ball to pitch."
Detroit went a combined 32-11 through June and July, and following a resounding sweep over the Royals at the end of the month, the Tigers looked poised to become a threat in the American League Central race. But since collecting the series "W" in Kansas City, the Tigers have gone a dismal 3-6 -- including a split with Cleveland and series losses to Chicago and Tampa Bay.
The club enters Sunday 6 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox and six behind the Twins, having gone 9-11 in their past 20 contests.
"The last few weeks, there were situations where we should have dominated the game and we didn't even come close," Leyland said. "I'm not talking about any one individual -- I am talking about all of us -- the managers, the coaches, the players. You got to step up if you want to be in the hunt."
Although Leyland's frustrations have extended from Day 1 of the season, the Tigers' recent performance vs. the Rays certainly hasn't helped matters.
Through the series' first two games, the club has gone 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position, stranding 22 men on base. The production on the hill hasn't been much better, as Detroit has been outscored, 18-7, by the Rays, with the staff issuing 11 walks. The Tigers haven't had a starter last through the sixth inning since Armando Galarraga went seven strong frames on July 23.
Although Leyland declined to single out any specific pitcher or player, the skipper said he planned on sitting down "eyeball-to-eyeball" with those individuals whose production has been in question and said he wouldn't hesitate to make changes to the lineup -- possibly as soon as Tuesday's series opener in Chicago.
"I write their name in [the lineup], the rest is up to them," Leyland said. "At some point, you got to earn [playing time].You have to produce, this is a game about production."
While the Tigers have struggled to hit all cylinders, Sunday afternoon was hardly a case of a manager who had lost faith in his team.
"I've told [the team] a few times, we got two teams ahead of us right now and I wouldn't take either one of them [personnel-wise]," he said.
While Leyland paid the Twins and White Sox due respect, acknowledging that "right now they are better than us," he is hoping in the future that won't be the case.
"You can either sit there as a player and say, 'It just wasn't our year' or you can say ... 'We're still in this thing,'" he said. "There's really two ways to look at [the season]."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.