06/20/09 4:36 PM ET
Leyland takes exception to Boras' criticism
Skipper also says Ordonez could return to lineup Tuesday
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
"To be honest with you, I'm hoping Tuesday is the day [Ordonez returns]," Leyland said on Saturday afternoon. "Will it be? I don't know that."
Tuesday is the start of the Tigers' Interleague series against the Cubs at Comerica Park. That would give Ordonez five days away from hitting since he last started on Wednesday in St. Louis.
Leyland said he would go by his gut feeling when to put Ordonez back in the lineup, and to some degree, that remains the case. He won't start Ordonez on Tuesday if he doesn't feel the outfielder is ready. But he also made the point that Ordonez will be back in the lineup, whether it's Tuesday or not.
How that plays out is up to Leyland and Ordonez, and the skipper clearly let his preference be known that Boras stay out of it.
"Scott Boras might be better off if he leaves Magglio Ordonez and myself to handle this instead of him," Leyland said, "because Magglio Ordonez will be back in the lineup. I just did exactly what I said: When you beat your head against the wall and continue to do it, sooner or later you say, 'You know what, this isn't working. Let's try something different.' That's all this is about.
"The biggest point that I want to make about the whole thing is this is strictly about Magglio Ordonez and how we feel about him and care about him. This has nothing to do with anything else, including Scott Boras."
Boras questioned the Tigers' decision to sit Ordonez during interviews on Friday.
"Take a look at what [Red Sox manager] Terry Francona is doing with David Ortiz," Boras told The Detroit News. "And this man has nowhere near the numbers of Magglio Ordonez in recent seasons. And Ortiz is coming off a bad year from the year before .
"[Alex Rodriguez] in the month of June hit .137 in 2006. [Derek] Jeter, I believe, for two months hit under .200. They didn't bench him.
"Give me the compelling reasons for benching Magglio. You bench Magglio and you're going to have a problem -- a real problem -- justifying that to me."
Boras did not return a telephone message left by MLB.com on Friday.
Leyland clarifies the Tigers' move by the fact that it's not a long-term decision. If Ordonez is back in the lineup on Tuesday, even Leyland's original term of an "indefinite" time out of the lineup seems strong. Leyland also reiterated that it's not punishment.
"This is about Magglio Ordonez and a manager trying to do something that we think may help get him right," Leyland said. "Is it the right thing? I don't know, but that's what this is about. And I'm not going to take shots from people in the newspaper that are untruths. If they're the truths and I'm wrong, go ahead and punch me in the jaw. But don't give me this.
"The main thing is Magglio and trying to get him right. This is about no other issue than Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so that he can contribute the way he feels good about himself. Because by his own admission, he's embarrassed."
Leyland also took exception to the idea that this came about suddenly.
"It was total nonsense on the agent's part that I blindsided Magglio Ordonez," Leyland said. "I've had two or three conversations with Magglio Ordonez about this. I'm very respectful of Scott Boras, but I'm not going to listen to that. ... That's just unfair. We don't blindside players here. We don't not tell players the truth here. We don't work that way here. And Scott Boras knows that in his heart. This is another grandstanding in the newspaper. That's the end of that."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.