Leyland planning lineup shakeup
Tigers manager has 'drastic' changes in mind for Monday
MINNEAPOLIS -- The lineup changes Tigers manager Jim Leyland slept on Saturday night yielded one move for Sunday's series finale against the Twins at the Metrdome. First baseman Miguel Cabrera moved into the third spot in the order for the first time this season.
That's it for the lineup changes ... for now.
"I'm going to shake things up a little bit here shortly," Leyland said Sunday morning.
By shortly, he means Monday at home against Boston. The shakeup won't include personnel changes, but like Cabrera, the bats that have been in the lineup all along could find themselves in different spots.
"Same pieces," Leyland said, "but quite a bit different."
Or as he later put it, "I think you'll find it pretty drastic."
It'll mean little, of course, unless the Tigers can get different results from it than they've had so far.
Cabrera batted fifth in all 30 of his previous games this season. However, he hit third for most of the past two years with the Florida Marlins. Leyland went into Spring Training saying he would bat either Cabrera or Gary Sheffield in the third spot, with the other batting fifth. He soon settled on Sheffield at No. 3, in part for the slugger's ability to work pitchers and get on base.
Sheffield had Sunday off, a day of rest that Leyland had already been planning the past few days. Sheffield started the past eight games after returning from shoulder problems.
Leyland talked about shaking up his batting order after Saturday's 4-1 loss. The Tigers entered Sunday's series finale having scored just two runs over the first two games of the set. They had gone scoreless for 14 straight innings when Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer in the eighth inning Saturday. Minnesota starter Scott Baker and reliever Brian Bass had held Detroit scoreless for seven innings combined on four singles.
|"You don't look like you have energy when you're not running around the bases. We're tough to watch sometimes."|
-- Tigers manager|
"I just think our offense is better than this," Leyland said. "I know it's better than this. I've seen a couple things that surprised me."
One has to go beyond the basic statistics to find the ailments. Detroit entered the day fourth in the American League in scoring, first in slugging percentage and second in on-base percentage and home runs. However, the Tigers have been shut out four times -- already more than all of last season -- and held to one run on four other occasions. They've scored eight or more runs in eight games, winning all of them, but they've been held to three runs or fewer far more often. In those low-scoring situations, they're 0-14.
Part of the problem, Leyland explained, is that they don't have the speed or athleticism to do some of the tricks a manager might try to manufacture runs, such as hitting -and-running, stealing bases or taking an extra base.
That could explain some of the lethargy.
"You don't look like you have energy when you're not running around the bases," Leyland said. "We're tough to watch sometimes."
The other problem Leyland has noticed is no sense of urgency to get going.
"There's just not that extra kick in the pants to get you over the hump," he said. "I think it will happen. I'll be very disappointed if it doesn't."
He's not disappointed now, not yet. But what he has seen is about as far from what he expected as it is for fans.
"I'm shocked, really," Leyland said. "This offense is better than it showed."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.