Leyland sticking close to home during break
DETROIT -- Some of the Tigers players and coaches will travel during the All-Star break, such as Gerald Laird, who is flying out to San Diego with the family Sunday night to spend a few days at Sea World and Disneyland before heading to Baltimore on Thursday. But manager Jim Leyland wants none of that.
"I'm just going home tonight and not really doing anything other than spending time with my wife and daughter," Leyland said before Sunday's series finale against Kansas City. "I'll go to the pool with them and have lunch, play golf with my wife, probably cook out at home.
"A lot of guys have activities, like some of them are going to Cedar Point [amusement park] or some of them are going up north. That's what it's all about. [But] I don't want to go somewhere. I want to go home."
It should give the skipper plenty of time to think about the second half. In fact, it was clear Leyland already got a head start doing so while he was speaking with the media Sunday morning.
Leyland spoke for a good 20 minutes and most of it about what he's most looking forward to after the break. Although he said he doesn't get excited, the thought of a healthy pitching staff had him "tickled to death."
"We got a big grind ahead of us and I'm looking forward to that," Leyland said. "It's a nice challenge. I see some signs of some good things [but] we're not over the hump yet ... I'm looking forward to our consistency and health where we're not juggling. I've never had to adjust so much or worry about my bullpen so much."
Entering Sunday's game, the Tigers were guaranteed to close out the first part of their season with a .500 record. With a win and a sweep of the Royals, they could finish above the break-even mark.
Despite not yet living up to expectations, the Tigers are still right in the thick of things in the American League Central, entering Sunday 4 1/2 games behind the first-place White Sox. And Leyland believes it's going to be a tight race down the stretch.
"Right now, Cleveland and the White Sox are just going toe-to-toe and they're winning all the time, so you got to tip your cap to them," Leyland said. "But we'll be playing for something ... At some point, we're going to get back in that division pretty heavy."
Outfielder Andy Dirks, who has been sidelined since May 30 with right Achilles tendinitis, still doesn't have a timetable for his return, but when asked if he'd return before August, Leyland said there's a chance.
"As it stands today, I would probably say that it's a possibility we could have him back prior to that," Leyland said. "But I wouldn't bet on it."
Outfielder Austin Jackson singled in the fifth inning of Sunday's game to extend his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. After a three-hit game on Saturday, Jackson was batting .417 (25-for-60) with two doubles, three triples, two home runs and eight RBIs in the first 14 games of that streak.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.