Tigers respond to Young's comments
Leyland, Dombrowski reject assertion he wasn't supported
LAKELAND, Fla. -- A day after former Tigers slugger Dmitri Young talked about his 2006 season and suggested the Tigers didn't support him, manager Jim Leyland and president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers went out of their way to support the troubled slugger.
The reaction stemmed from a wide-ranging interview Young gave to Washington-area reporters from Nationals training camp in Viera. He owned up to the troubles that plagued him last year and revealed that he has Type II diabetes.
The comments that troubled Tigers officials were his reaction to being released late last season, a move the team said was related to baseball performance.
"I must say [the Tigers] were probably saving their own tail because they thought that the whole court thing there was going to be a distraction for a team that was winning," Young told reporters Monday. "I thought it was [wrong] on their part, especially the time that I spent with the Tigers and represented them in a positive manner. I would have figured they would support me in the same manner but they didn't."
Leyland read the remarks at his morning meeting with reporters, then took strong issue.
"I like Dmitri Young very much," Leyland said. "In my opinion, and Dmitri or anybody else can hold me totally responsible, Dmitri Young was not an asset to our ballclub on the field last year, and he also needed to take care of some very important issues for the welfare of Dmitri Young. And you can hold me totally responsible for the dismissal of Dmitri Young. Don't put it on the organization. Don't put it on anybody else.
Giving his reasons for the release of Young last year, Leyland said, "I did not feel that Dmitri's performance on the field was an asset to this organization, and it broke my heart. We wanted a left-handed hitter all year. Dmitri Young was a guy that I was counting on. The part that upsets me is this guy missed a lot of the season taking care of a problem that he created, not that the Tigers created. So [his comments are] very disappointing to me.
"But don't put it on Dave [Dombrowski]. Don't put it on the organization. Put it on Jim Leyland. And to this day, I hope that Dmitri Young has got his life intact because he's a good guy, and I like him very much. But he had some issues that needed to be taken care of, and it was best for Dmitri Young, if you want to know the truth."
Leyland said he still likes Young a lot, and he'll talk with him if they meet when the Tigers and Nationals face each other this spring.
"I'm not looking to have a bone to pick with anybody," he said, "but I think -- and I was only here one year -- knowing what went on last year, for Dmitri to criticize the organization for lack of support, I think it's totally out of line. And I'll leave it at that."
Dombrowski said the organization gave Young plenty of support.
"I always have liked Dmitri and continue to do so," Dombrowski said. "I feel for him, because he went through a tough situation. But I couldn't disagree with him more. I think the organization was behind him strongly. We helped him a great deal. And because of the personal nature of it, I can't get into all of that. I know myself, because I was personally involved with a lot of that, we were very patient with him and gave him an opportunity. And unfortunately for him, he didn't perform, and that's why we gave him his release. But also I think at that point, it was probably the best thing for him from a personal perspective, because he was struggling through a lot of things."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.