One of the questions we’ve received here at Motor City Bengals throughout the first couple weeks of Spring Training is, “where’s Jim Leyland?”
The former captain of the ship called Detroit Tigers retired in October, but was assigned the duty of being special assistant to general manager Dave Dombrowski, yet we hadn’t seen him in TigerTown the last couple weeks.
Those questions needn’t be asked any longer as the manager formerly known as “Skip,” made his presence known ahead of his former team’s 12-0 blanking of Florida Southern College. But despite being in camp for the first time on Tuesday, Leyland tried to be largely out of the way of new manager Brad Ausmus, who was making his managerial debut.
This will continue throughout his time in Lakeland, according to MLive beat writer, Chris Iott.
Leyland plans to spend most of the remainder of spring training in Lakeland with the team and expects to take in some Tigers games — probably while the team is on the road — during the season. He didn’t specify why he mentioned that he would see them on the road, but it’s easy to see by his demeanor that he is trying to avoid being a distraction to the players and especially Ausmus.
“He’s been fantastic,” Leyland said of Ausmus. “He’s called me and texted me a few times. I’m totally out of the way.
While mostly staying away from the clubhouse and manager’s office (no doubt with the stained yellow cigarette smoke marks removed from the ceiling tiles), Leyland spent time in the team’s offices while entertaining the beat writers.
Jim Leyland enters Joker Marchant Stadium with a moonwalk.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) February 25, 2014
Leyland also almost met his maker.
Leyland talks to media. Foul from BP heads straight for back of his head. Tigers media director Aileen Villarreal deflects at last second. — Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) February 25, 2014
Despite not having any real influence on-field matters, the Leyland bashers still felt the need to make their voices heard.
Some Twitter followers mad Jim Leyland is here. He is a Tigers employee. Special assistant. Not sure where people want him to be.
— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) February 25, 2014
For those really worried about his presence, Skip had this to say.
… People can rest easy: I’m not going to have anything to do with it. I’m not going to be hanging around the players or going in the clubhouse or anything like that.”
So the #FireLeyland crowd should dial it back, just a bit. After all, the Tigers only scored a dozen runs against a bunch of college kids and the big names (Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez) went hitless.
Too early for a #FireAusmus movement?