Notes: Leyland to talk about extension
Tigers manager will meet with GM Dombrowski on Monday
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been one of the small parts of the turnaround in Detroit, as he has stated several times over the past two years.And he would like to stick around for a while. Leyland discussed the possibility of a contract extension before Wednesday's final home game of 2007 at Comerica Park. He will meet with general manager Dave Dombrowski next Monday for their usual end-of-the-season gathering, and Leyland said one of the main topics will be a contract extension. "So everybody knows there's no [lying] here, that is one of the topics," Leyland said. "We're going to get together and decide a little bit about my future. But there's been absolutely no discussion." Leyland, 62, is signed through 2008, but he said he would like to manage "for a while," hopefully in Detroit.
"I would hope it's going to be here -- I love it here," Leyland said. "I'm happy here."Leyland said he isn't looking for a long-term extension, just a year-by-year extension, assuming the Tigers still are playing well. "I'm not looking to go anywhere," Leyland said. "I would like to drive away from here Monday afternoon with another year on my contract. And next year I would like to have another year on top of that." The Tigers officially will be eliminated from postseason contention with either a loss on Wednesday or a Yankees win. Injuries have taken their toll on the Tigers this season, but Leyland said he still feels energized going into next year. "I'm pumped up," Leyland said. "Energy is no problem. That's not going to be a problem as long as I'm managing the Tigers. When the energy's not there, I'll leave the Tigers." Part of the reason Leyland wants to stick around is his relationship with Dombrowski and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. "I would venture to say that as long as Mr. Ilitch is the owner, this club will operate pretty darn good," Leyland said. "We have a man at the top who is very flexible and a general manager that leaves no stone unturned. So we'll see how it works out." Leyland said he didn't want to discuss any extensions during the season, and whatever happens next Monday, he doesn't want any big deal made out of the talks. "I hope Tuesday they have some small little thing in the paper that says 'Jim Leyland has extended his contract through 2009,'" the manager said. "That's what I hope happens, and I mean that sincerely." Waiting game: Leyland didn't want to discuss any possible offseason moves the Tigers plan to make, though he said waiting to hear what Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones plan to do plays a big factor. Rogers and Jones each has an expiring contract at the end of the season, and both have stated they will weigh the free-agent market. "We need to tweak this team a little bit," Leyland said. "I don't know what Todd Jones is going to do. I don't know what Kenny Rogers is going to do. Those are big factors. Did we discuss what-ifs and what-if-nots? Sure." Scoreboard watching ... sort of: Leyland had all but conceded the Yankees would win the American League Wild Card, but he did watch the Devil Rays complete an extra-inning comeback win over the Yanks on Tuesday night. "I sat here last night and saw the scoreboard was '5-0 Yankees' and said, 'Well, that's the last nail,'" Leyland said. "Then I came in here and stayed up and watched it and saw the nail hadn't been pounded all the way in yet." The Yankees would have to lose their remaining five games against the Devil Rays and Orioles, while the Tigers would have to go unbeaten in their final four games to force a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium. "I don't think the Yankees are going to lose the rest of their games, if that's what you're asking," Leyland said. That nail came one night later, when the Yankees clinched with a win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
"Good luck," was Leyland's message to the Yankees.
Still plotting: The Tigers have yet to go through the usual rookie hazing of forcing first-year players into embarrassing outfits at the end of the season."I don't know when it's gonna happen," Brandon Inge said. "We'll sneak it in there sometime in Chicago." The Tigers will have their last chance during their three-game series against the White Sox. "We've taken care of a few things," Inge said. "It's a work in progress. I know it's in the works, I just don't know when it's gonna happen." More on Bonderman's changeup: The Tigers have tried for several years to get Jeremy Bonderman to develop a worthwhile changeup to compliment his fastball and slider. Leyland said he thought Bonderman had developed the pitch well enough to use on a regular basis, but Bonderman still is reluctant to do so. "The pitch has finally arrived," Leyland said. "I think the problem is, when Jeremy runs into trouble, he's still reluctant to go to that pitch because he's had it drilled into him, like most pitchers, 'Don't get beat with your secondary pitch.' When he learns there's some truth to that, but not all truth to that, then I think he'll have a chance to be real good." Winters suspended: Mike Winters, who was an umpire for the first two games of the Tigers' series against the Twins, was suspended for the rest of the 2007 regular season, Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday. Winters was involved in an on-field incident with San Diego's Milton Bradley on Sunday. Bradley has said Winters used an expletive in his direction, which led to an ejection and a torn ACL for Bradley in the following scuffle. Scott Barry, usually a Triple-A umpire, replaced Winters as the third-base ump in Wednesday's game. Up next: After an off-day on Thursday, the Tigers will start their final series of the season in Chicago on Friday. Rogers (3-3, 4.26 ERA) will make his last start of the year against Javier Vazquez (14-8, 3.79) at U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.