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Leyland Ready to Go; Lineup Set?

After stating that he "knew very little about the ballclub" in his hiring press conference, new Tigers manager Jim Leyland has done a little research and is all set to take charge at the upcoming season. After taking a detailed look at the player personnel available in Detroit, Leyland explained a little bit about his current expectations for the Tigers:

But tentative plans already are taking shape. They include -- unless the players prove otherwise -- greater roles for outfielder Nook Logan and infielder Omar Infante. A four-man rotation in the outfield (Craig Monroe, Magglio Ordonez, Logan and Granderson) would be matched by a similar shuttle in the infield between Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, Placido Polanco, and Infante, who also is being analyzed by Leyland as a part-time outfielder.

The outfield is still very up in the air because other teams, such as the Yankees, have shown interest in Craig Monroe. And I find a prospect of Omar Infante playing outfield very interesting, especially considering that Polanco is going to be our steady everyday second baseman. Not only is Leyland pondering putting Infante in the outfield, he is expecting pretty big things out of him:
"I think Infante is a real interesting guy for us," Leyland said. "He can play infield, he can play outfield. He can play second base, shortstop and third.

"Are Inge, Guillen and Polanco important? Yes. But so is Infante.

"He's got pop in his bat," Leyland said of Infante, who turns 24 on Dec. 26. "This guy should be a regular player in the big leagues. There is no doubt he has the potential to be an everyday player."


I was surprised to see Infante perform the way he did last year after it seemed 2004 was quite a breakout for him. Hopefully Leyland can get him back on the right track, and find a way for him to comfortably rotate positions as a utility-type player.

Some other interesting bits of info from today was the quote by Dave Dombrowski that basically said the lineup for next season was already solidified:

Dombrowski said the Tigers' everyday lineup "is pretty much set."

That would seem to kill speculation that the team would trade catcher Ivan Rodriguez to the Mets for second baseman Kaz Matsui.

"With Guillen coming back from his situation and Ordonez coming back, our everyday lineup is solidified," Dombrowski said.


Of course, this could just be your basic everyday GM talk, but if this is true the rumors saying pitching was the number one priority for the Tigers hit it right on the head.