Jim Leyland has been the Detroit Tigers' manager since 2006, leading them to a pair of American League pennants, but the 68-year-old skipper has decided to resign from his position.
Rod Beard of The Detroit News provides a statement from Leyland at the Tigers' press conference:
Jim Leyland: "I have told most all of you, when it's time, it's time -- and it's time. It's time to step down..."— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland said he decided on Sept. 7 and told Dombrowski in Kansas City but was asked to return.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland: They never told players or anyone else because they didn't want it to be a distraction.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland: We let an American League championship get away.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland: I informed my players Saturday night after the game in Boston...I didn't know how to take it when they clapped.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland: Spent the last 24 hours promising self I would not get emotional.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
Leyland will accept another unnamed position (within the organization).— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 21, 2013
James Schmehl of Mlive.com had more from Leyland:
Jim Leyland: "I've made my mistakes. Probably was a little grumpy with the press at times, but I can't ever say I wasn't there for you."— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) October 21, 2013
Leyland on returning for another season: "I think I would've been coming back for the wrong reasons."— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) October 21, 2013
Leyland also thanked everyone within the Tigers for having him as their manager:
"So long. It's not goodbye. And from the bottom of my heart thank you for having me." -Jim Leyland #ThanksJim— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 21, 2013
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the decision:
Sources: Leyland stepping down as #Tigers manager. Told team after end of ALCS. Team has called news conference for 11:30 AM ET.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 21, 2013
Rosenthal is reporting that Leyland told his players following their elimination from the American League Championship Series at the hands of the Boston Red Sox that he was ready to move on:
Told that Leyland informed #Tigers players after end of ALCS that it was time for someone younger to do the job. He is 68.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 21, 2013
Before making the decision, Leyland talked to former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa about how to walk away from the game (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle):
Before retiring as #tigers manager, Leyland asked La Russa for advice on the art of stepping away.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) October 21, 2013
Detroit made it difficult for the Red Sox the entire series, and if not for a blown five-run lead in Game 2 of the ALCS, Leyland and the Tigers could very well be challenging the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
The Tigers' starting pitching was great in the series, and Leyland seemed to think that their efforts should have been enough to get Detroit past Boston, according to the Detroit Free Press:
“Normally, if you pitch the way we pitched in this series, you would probably think that you had won." -- Jim Leyland— Freep Sports (@freepsports) October 21, 2013
Leyland has been one of the most successful managers in baseball since taking the reins for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986. He won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and led the Tigers to the World Series in his first season with the team in 2006 following a six-year hiatus from managing.
Detroit had been in the doldrums for quite some time before Leyland's arrival, but Matt DeVries of ESPN 100.9 FM credits him with revitalizing the franchise.
Jim Leyland brought baseball back to relevance in Detroit. Sad to see him go but interested to see what's next for the #Tigers.— Matt DeVries (@DeVries_Matt) October 21, 2013
Leyland is a three-time Manager of the Year, and there is no question that the Tigers will have a difficult time replacing him, as he brought unprecedented success to a franchise that had seen more than its share of tough times (via ESPN Stats and Info):
The Tigers made 4 postseason appearances in 8 years under Jim Leyland after making 4 in their previous 60 seasons COMBINED.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 21, 2013
The talent is certainly there to make a run at the World Series once again next season, but it remains to be seen if the organization can find a new manager capable of handling the current roster like Leyland did.
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