It did not take long for controversy to erupt for the Detroit Tigers at spring training.
In an article from Yahoo! Sports Tuesday night, relief pitcher Octavio Dotel called out slugger Miguel Cabrera for not calling team meetings in both the American League Division Series and the World Series.
After racing out to a two-game lead in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, the Tigers dropped Games 3 and 4 before Justin Verlander threw a complete game to win the series in five.
In the World Series, the Tigers dropped the first two games in San Francisco against the Giants before flying home to conclude the series.
Dotel asked for meetings after Game 4 against Oakland and between Games 2 and 3 and was reportedly told no by Cabrera.
Maybe the better question to ask is why Dotel, considered to be a clubhouse leader, did not go ahead and call those meetings himself.
Very quietly this offseason, the Tigers acknowledged that clubhouse leadership might have been a problem last year when they signed Torii Hunter to a two-year deal.
Hunter has always been known for his leadership roles and, with his quest to earn his first World Series ring, will be front and center in trying to keep the clubhouse headed in the right direction.
It is not unusual for one player to question the leadership abilities of another. Dotel is not guilty of any real crime here. The fact that this has gone public says more about Jim Leyland’s ability to keep things internal than Dotel’s ability to keep his mouth shut.
Leyland should have had a better feel for the pulse of his team and, if he felt it really was needed, pressured either Cabrera or Dotel to have that meeting.
There is actually nothing wrong with clearing the air when things don’t go your way. As poorly as the Tigers played the first two games of the World Series, getting these problems sorted out might have been better in the long run.
Some leaders are in-your-face kind of guys who command respect because they produce on the field.
Others lead by example. They perform above expectations and through pain and expect others to do the same. Cabrera seems to fit that mold of a leader.
If discontent is going to come public, now is the time to do that before the heat of the season gets underway. With Hunter now in the fold and Dotel likely to become more active in how the Tigers clubhouse goes, they can avoid the mistakes this year that cost them so dearly last.
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