Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski had plenty to say at TigerFest. Here are the important takeaways.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, manager Jim Leyland and assorted others spoke to both fans and media members over the weekend. (Links go to Jason Beck's highlights.) That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of new headlines were made. So, here's a quick parsing of what's new, interesting or stale in what they said, ranked by importance.
Important but not new: Bruce Rondon is not the closer for-sure, but is the leading candidate
Despite what some in the media have written, this isn't actually news. The Tigers never said Rondon was the closer and no one else need apply. Dombrowski called him the "leading candidate." However, Leyland did comment on why others in the bullpen aren't being considered ahead of Rondon.
" We have guys that can close a game, but I'm not sure other than potentially Rondon whether we have guys that can potentially close every game. In other words, Cokey can save a game, Benoit can save a game, Dotel can save a game, but I'm not sure if any of those guys can hold up day after day, physically or mentally, and I think that you have to be careful with that." (via Beck)
It goes without saying: Victor Martinez will be brought along slowly
Leyland told the media that Martinez will be brought up to speed gradually, as he has not seen live pitching for more than a year. That's also a good reason we should all keep realistic expectations about Martinez. He's a darn sight better than Delmon Young, I'm sure. But he's probably not going to jump right back into hitting .330. Fortunately, he shouldn't have to.
Semi-important: Justin Verlander would like to retire a Tiger; Dombrowski'd be down with that
Dombrowski and the Tigers don't comment on negotiations, other than to comment that they don't comment on negotiations. However, Verlander was more than happy to share his opinion (again, via Beck):
"I've made no secret that I love Detroit," Verlander said on Thursday at the Tigers' annual media luncheon. "I grew up in front of these fans. I feel like I've been a big part of this city, and this city has become a big part of me. So I, obviously, would love to play my career here."
Interesting to note: Expect more action on the basebaths
Austin Jackson would like to steal more bases. (He's not putting a number to it.) Jim Leyland would like his team to be more aggressive. (Note: not the same as actually being aggressive.) The Tigers have even added a baserunning consultant. (I think this means that he gets paid good money to make suggestions they won't follow.)
Leyland told reporters:
"(W)e're aggressive by hitting doubles and homers. If we had the 1959 Chicago White Sox, I'd run, I'd squeeze, I'd bunt, I'd do all those things. But we don't have that type of team."
Not really important: Rick Porcello is taking it one day at a time; just wants to help his team however he can.