10/5/2013 8:33 P.M. ET
Leyland opts for defense, puts Kelly in left
By Jason Beck and Paul Hagen / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- After all the speculation over whether Jhonny Peralta would supplant Andy Dirks for a start in left field in this American League Division Series, Don Kelly has now been added to the mix. The veteran super-utility player, who became a hero in Game 2 of last year's ALDS between these two teams with a game-winning sacrifice fly, started in left field Saturday night.
It wasn't a decision based on the matchups. It was everything aside from offense that favored him.
"I just stuck another lefty in there and went with the defense," Leyland said.
The move presented a couple strategy changes for Leyland. For starters, it meant that if Leyland went to Peralta as a pinch-hitter for Kelly, he would not have Kelly's defense to insert in left. He could still go with Dirks for the end of the game.
The flip side, though, is that Peralta could still pinch-hit for shortstop Jose Iglesias late in a game if Leyland so chose.
Benoit: 'World Series' comment misunderstood
OAKLAND -- In the heat of the moment, in the joy and adrenaline rush of a four-out save that preserved the Tigers' Game 1 win over Oakland in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Friday night, Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit let his emotions get the better of him.
"I feel like we're on the verge of the World Series again," he said.
In the bright light of day Saturday, he realized how that sounded, how it could be taken as bulletin-board fodder for the Athletics, how it was premature, at the very least. So as he walked through the visitor's dugout at O.co Coliseum before Game 2, he paused long enough to explain what he meant as opposed to what he said.
"The message was taken the wrong way. We went to the World Series last year. What I was trying to say was that this is the feeling we would like to have, and [if we do], we can go back to the World Series," he elaborated. "It's really tough when you're trying to say something and it gets taken the wrong way. If it was taken the wrong way, I apologize. I didn't mean to say that we're going to go to the World Series. There's a lot of baseball to be played."
By then, the comment had already gotten the attention of old-school Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who, predictably, loved the can-do attitude but would have preferred that Benoit hadn't said it out loud for the whole world to hear.
"I always tell my players that, you know what, in these situations, because of the national media attention, it's probably best to say less. The less said is probably better. Sure, I like a confident team. I don't know that you need to go on stage and talk about it, but I like a team that's confident and I think you show that by the way you play.
"I don't expect that we are any more confident than the Oakland A's, so I don't like to hear any teams talk about it too much. I just like to watch 'em go out and play, and they usually show their energy and confidence and everything by the way they play. If guys want to talk about it, that's fine, more power to 'em. They're grown men. I don't tell anybody what to say and or not to say. I don't give advice, but I do say there is no sense in fueling fires. We don't need to do that. We just need to go play."
Benoit was asked if he thought he needed to speak to Leyland to clear the air.
"I already heard about it," he said with a small smile. "I already clarified it with him."
Leyland: Scherzer in Game 1 was 'no-brainer'
OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland saw the postgame shows Friday night lauding him for his decision to start Max Scherzer over Justin Verlander in Game 1.
To Leyland, though, the decision wasn't with Game 1, but the game after that.
"If the truth be known, in my mind, I thought it was a no-brainer, the first-game starter," Leyland said. "I thought the second-game starter was a tough one, because you could've had [Anibal] Sanchez or Verlander. I picked Verlander simply because he's been on this big stage out here. I thought it would be good for him. He's shown that he can do it."
Sanchez's strength at home also played a part. The debate over whether Leyland made the right choice in Game 1, and whether Scherzer's gem allowed him to sleep better, flummoxed him.
"Sleep better? I thought it was a no-brainer," Leyland said. "And now everybody's saying, 'Boy, he made a good choice.' I made a good choice whether he did good or bad. I mean, I made a good choice now because he did good? It was the right choice."
Guillen to toss ceremonial first pitch before Game 3
OAKLAND -- While Detroit waits for Jhonny Peralta to work his way into left field, the Tigers will open the home portion of their postseason schedule by welcoming their last former shortstop to try playing in left.
Carlos Guillen, a two-time All-Star during his Detroit tenure, will return to Comerica Park to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the Tigers' American League Division Series against the A's Monday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, MLB Network).
It'll be Guillen's second trip to Comerica Park since his retirement after the 2011 season. He returned in the summer of 2012 for a ceremony honoring his Tigers tenure. However, he visited the team just last week in Miami during their series against the Marlins.
Guillen will go down in Tigers history as one of the key acquisitions of the team's turnaround from 119 losses in 2003 to the World Series in 2006. After the 2003 season, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski went looking for a shortstop on the market, was rebuffed in early courtships of free agents Miguel Tejada and Rich Aurilia, then struck when the Mariners failed to trade Guillen to Cleveland for Omar Vizquel.
The Tigers acquired Guillen for infielders Juan Gonzalez and Ramon Santiago, the latter of whom ended up back with the Tigers a few years later. Guillen, meanwhile, emerged as an offensive player in Detroit, batting .318 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs in 2004 before hitting .320 with 19 homers and 85 RBIs for the World Series team a couple years later.
Guillen batted .297 with 95 home runs, 449 RBIs and an .842 OPS over eight seasons as a Tiger. The last four of them saw him move out from shortstop to play first base, then third base, then left field, then second base. All the while, injuries to his knee, back and shoulder wore him down in his early-to-mid-30s.
In addition to Guillen's return, the Tigers will feature local musicians performing the national anthem. Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott, two Detroit natives who are part of the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., will perform ahead of the release of their new album on Tuesday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.