Closers, bunting and Kelly: Jim Leyland Answers Fan Questions
We did not have anybody that we thought was really ready to close coming out of Spring Training. We tried Rondon, but we did not feel that he was ready to be able to close games at the major league level, which put us in a little bit of a quandary. So with that being said, we tinkered around the first part of the season and ended up signing Jose Valverde who was throwing the ball good, and is throwing the ball good. He became more of an option for us because he’d done it before and he wasn’t afraid. Since making him the closer, he’s been successful most of the time and has blown three saves. It doesn’t appear that he’s quite the same as he was a year or two years ago, but he’s certainly not bad. Where we stand right now is I think there will be some situations where he will be the closer, but as you saw (Sunday) if the lineup is set up for someone who has a different repertoire of pitches, I might go that way. [Valverde] is gonna close some games.
@Hammonds253 #askleyland. How valuable is a player like Matt Tuiasosopo to your club in his limited starts and pinch hitting?
He’s been terrific. I’ve got a soft spot for him because he really won the job out of Spring Training and he’s proven that we made a very good decision. He’s done a very good job for us wherever we put him.
He looks pretty good. I think he was a little stale the first couple of days in Toledo but it looks like he’s picked up and gotten back into the swing of things a little bit. I’m still holding my breath a bit because sometimes when guys are out for so long when they come back they get a few hits but they’re still not really in sync and it takes them a while to get in a good groove and get going, but if yesterday is any indication, he’s well on his way.
@MattWilhelm9 @tigers #AskLeyland Don Kelly has been on fire. Have you thought about starting him more often?
I’ll answer that question this way, Don Kelly is a valuable player for us when used in the right spots and when used sparingly either to rest somebody, play on a Sunday or against a tough sinkerballer or righthander and that’s probably what we’ll continue to do with him.
That’s where you’re torn between a rock and a hard pile. I would not have bunted Torii Hunter if they had a left-handed pitcher warming up in the bullpen. But if [fans] watch the game, they did not have a lefthander warming up in the bullpen, so that meant that Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez were gonna get a chance to drive in a run. Prince Fielder is a 100+ RBI guy. He’s very capable of knocking that run in, which he did I believe. You don’t ever want to take the bat out of Miguel Cabrera’s hands but I will also say this, when you’re in the ninth inning of the game, a tie game, particularly at home and the first guy gets on and you don’t bunt, and Torii Hunter who can hit into double plays, hits into a double play it takes the starch right out of your team. So that means Cabrera is hitting with nobody on base. So now you’re saying that to win the game, Cabrera has to hit a home run. That’s pretty hard to do. So this is one that I’ve tossed around with a lot of other managers, had they [Twins] had a left-handed pitcher warming up in the bullpen that, a tough lefthander that I knew Prince was gonna have to face, I wouldn’t have bunted him, but because they didn’t have a lefty and I knew Prince and Victor would get to hit off a right handed pitcher- I mean Victor knocked in one hundred something runs for us and Prince is a perennial 100+ RBI guy. The fourth and fifth guys are supposed to be able to knock in some runs for us, and in this case they did and we won the game.