Jim Leyland spoke to Dan Dickerson and Phil Caputo on Tiger Talk on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday. While nothing he said was worthy of breaking news commentary, I guess we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about a few of the subjects. I'm just going to link you to Tom Gage's blog, if you didn't listen to the broadcast, as he transcribed all the key quotes.
- Next season, Rick Porcello is key for the Tigers
This one was obvious of course. Leyland said he's not sure what to expect, but the key to the Tigers having a successful season would be Porcello stepping up. Leyland channeled one Marshall Mathers in stating:
"Will the real Rick Porcello please stand up? Is it the guy we saw a couple of years ago or is it the guy we saw inconsistent last year?"
He added that he believes in Porcello but he has to take the next step for himself, and that he still had to refine his secondary pitches.
- Carlos Guillen is still in the mix at second base
Leyland said everyone talks like Guillen's gone, but Guillen is still a possibility at second base. However, when pushed for a health update he didn't rule Guillen out at the start of the year but he sounded like a man who a) knew Guillen wouldn't be ready, and b) didn't want to rush him and have him re-injure himself.
Given the fact microfracture surgery is a major surgery for athletes -- even if it isn't quite the "career ender" that many thought it used to be -- I don't know why people talk about Guillen like he'd be ready for the season only a handful of months after he had the procedure. Yes, Guillen is in the mix. But it's better to consider him lost until he's found, rather than count on him for too much, too soon.
I don't know, maybe it's politically incorrect to say that, because no one from the Tigers organization wants to.
- Brennan Boesch needs to improve his defense
I mean, I guess this is true. But the Tigers need to play him consistently in right field, too, which is where he spent most of his time in the minor leagues the past few seasons. Obviously, when a guy is known for taking a baseball off the face in spring training, he needs to improve if only to protect his schnoz. But I really didn't feel like Boesch played poor defense either. I would have pegged him at average.
What Boesch needs to improve is his pitch recognition, patience, and control of the strike zone. Say what you will about not changing a player when he gets to the big leagues, opposing pitchers sure knew what to do about him.