10/29/12 2:45 AM ET
Leyland sticks with lineup despite drought
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Back-to-back shutouts to the Giants raised the question of whether Leyland would shake up his batting order for Sunday night's Game 4, needing a win to prolong the World Series. He ended up sticking with the same lineup.
"I think everybody talks about the lineup," Leyland said. "That's a real big topic around Detroit most of the time. But when you say whether you're going to change the lineup, I'm not sure what people mean.
"Do they mean hit somebody in another position or do they mean put somebody else in? With all due respect to everybody, Danny Worth, [Ramon] Santiago or [Jhonny] Peralta, there are only so many changes you can make. Sometimes they pick out a player that's struggling and they don't want him to play, but I've never really figured out that lineup stuff too much."
Just six Major League teams used fewer lineups than the Tigers in terms of players this season, and 10 had fewer different batting orders than the 121 that Leyland filled out. Yet Leyland still heard criticism in the local media over the starts he gave to backup players to make sure his regulars remained well rested.
In this case, Leyland's loyalty to his regulars would be the debate.
"Our lineup is what it is," Leyland continued, "and we're playing in a World Series. I'm not afraid to make adjustments, but down three games to none, it's a little late for changing a lineup, I think."
Ninth-inning pitch breaks Infante's left hand
DETROIT -- The Tigers won't have to figure out how they would've gone on without Omar Infante. No sooner had they realized Infante had suffered a season-ending left hand injury than their season was over.
Infante suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal and will spend the next four to six weeks with a cast on his left wrist and hand, but he was told he won't need surgery.
"It's the third time it happened," Infante said, "but it hit me in a different spot. I'll have to see the hand specialist tomorrow, and I'll have another [opinion]."
Infante had similar injuries before the 2008 season and in the middle of the 2009 season, both as a member of the Braves. Each of those injuries required surgery, the infielder said. Avoiding surgery this time would be a relief for Infante, especially if he can come back at full strength in Spring Training and keep his hold on the second-base job in Detroit.
Infante was one of the Tigers' few good hitters in the World Series, going 5-for-15, but he was stranded on the basepaths each time. He continued that in Game 4 with a leadoff single in the fifth inning, then stepped up in the ninth with two outs against Santiago Casilla.
With a 2-1 count, Infante caught a 94-mph fastball that rode in on his hands, leaving him little time to react. He knew immediately it was bad.
"The X-rays showed it's cracked," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He was obviously in a lot of pain. Obviously when you get hit with one like that, plus the cold weather, that's a tough take. But he's got a long time to recuperate, obviously."
Leyland hopeful, but return not set in stone
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said during this postseason that he wants to return next season. His boss, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, said last week that the Tigers want him back. And yet there's still no clarity over Leyland's managerial future.
The end of the Tigers' season on Sunday night with a World Series sweep at the hands of the Giants didn't help that, other than to start the timetable on a decision.
When asked if he expects to be back next season, Leyland was noncommittal.
"I don't really know that," Leyland said. "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. But tonight's not the night for that."
The uncertainty could be a negotiating tactic for either side, or it could be a sign that there's something left to be addressed, whether it's the coaching staff or the terms of the deal.
Asked whether he wants to be back, Leyland paused.
"I like to manage, you know?" Leyland said. "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.
"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."
All that Leyland would commit to is that he won't be managing another team. If he doesn't return to the Tigers, he'll be done.
"I'm not looking, in any way, shape, or form, to go anyplace else," Leyland said. "This is my last stop."
Leyland is finishing up a one-year contract he signed last August. All year long, his chances at an extension seemingly hinged on his team winning another American League Central title.
The division title was taken care of four weeks ago. The contract situation still lingered.
Before Sunday's game, Leyland was asked about his relationship with Dombrowski. While his answer was positive, it still reinforced the uncertainty.
"I think we have a great relationship," Leyland said. "I don't think there's any question about that. We both have one thing in common: We want to win. I don't think there's anybody better at putting a team together than Dave Dombrowski, and hopefully he feels that I'm the guy to manage it."
Right forearm soreness sidelines Avila
DETROIT -- Tigers catcher Alex Avila was scratched from the starting lineup for Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday with what the team described as right forearm soreness.
Avila sustained the injury behind the plate in Game 1 when he took a foul tip off his arm, between his wrist and his elbow. He was able to play through it in Game 3 on Saturday night, but head athletic trainer Kevin Rand went into manager Jim Leyland's office Sunday afternoon and told him Avila probably wouldn't be able to go.
"It's on the bone, and it's pretty sore," Leyland said.
Gerald Laird, who has started against left-handed pitchers for most of the season while backing up Avila, will start in Avila's place.
At this point, Avila would be available in an emergency situation.
"I'd probably run him in there to catch if I had to," Leyland said. "But just as far as I know, the trainer told me just a little bit ago it's probably best not to go with him. Obviously, yesterday I talked to the trainer, felt like he was OK to go and OK to play."
Avila's bumps and bruises are well known in Detroit, given his reputation for taking a lot of foul tips off his body. He has dealt with knee issues in each of the last two seasons, spent time on the disabled list in June with a right hamstring strain, then missed a couple days in September with concussion-like symptoms sustained in a collision with Prince Fielder.
Avila was behind the plate in 22 of Game 4 starter Max Scherzer's 32 appearances this season, twice as many as Laird. Scherzer's strikeout-to-walk ratio was about double with Avila behind the plate, but his strikeout rate also wavered as the season progressed.
Leyland talks to Cabrera about media availability
DETROIT -- On Sunday, Miguel Cabrera cited family in town as the reason behind his much-chronicled exit from the Tigers clubhouse soon after Game 3 Saturday night, before the clubhouse was open to the media for interviews.
Shortly before that, manager Jim Leyland had a talk with his star slugger about availability to media before the Tigers took batting practice Sunday afternoon in preparation for Game 4.
The issue became a story in the wake of the Tigers' second straight shutout loss to the Giants, putting a lot of attention on a star-studded lineup. As the Triple Crown winner, Cabrera was the center of attention, along with Prince Fielder.
When reporters got to his clubhouse locker on Saturday night, Cabrera had already packed up and left. Fielder talked for several minutes.
It was the second time this postseason Cabrera has been scrutinized for media availability. He had an audible exchange in Spanish in the clubhouse in Oakland after Game 4 of the American League Division Series with Octavio Dotel, who told him he needed to reflect no sign of panic on the team after a 2-0 series lead had become a 2-2 tie.
For what it's worth, Cabrera was generally good about making himself available after most games during the regular season.
"I think you're not going to get the benefit of the doubt when you're on a national stage like this," Leyland said earlier Sunday, "and that's one thing that at some point I'll talk to him. But I'm also going to say this, and I'm not defending anything, I'm just making a point: As a manager you have to be careful. I will deal with the situation and check into it, because you have to be there through the good and the bad. You can't be on this podium only when you win. When we're 0-3, I've got to be up here and I'm not the happiest camper in the world. However, you have a responsibility.
"On the other side of that coin, families are here, mothers are here, young kids are here. I don't know that somebody might have been sick, I don't know that something wasn't right in the family, he had to get out."
Cabrera's wife and kids are in town for the World Series, as are his parents. They were with him Saturday before Game 3, when he was honored with the AL's Hank Aaron Award for the top offensive performer.
"I've got a lot of family here," Cabrera said Sunday during batting practice. "I [had] to go home."
To ease pressure, Leyland addresses club
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't one for big speeches, and neither are his players.
As All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder pointed out after Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Giants in Game 3 put them one loss away from a World Series sweep, "All that talk stuff's for Hoosiers and the movies."
Still, Leyland seemed prepared to make one small exception on Sunday afternoon, if only to pick up his players a bit. He sensed some frustration rising after a second 2-0 loss in as many games.
"I'm going to talk to the whole team a little bit about what they've done, what's in front of them," Leyland said. "It's not a pep talk. It's just like I said, guys are a little tough on themselves.
"There's nothing wrong with making an out. There's nothing wrong with striking out. That happens. That's been going on in the game for years. Don't beat yourself up. That's ridiculous. Guys do, but don't beat yourself up. That's not necessary."