Jim Leyland: ‘I expect our pitchers to strike out every hitter next year … at least I pray they do’
by Patrick O. Elia
on Feb 12, 2012
With the January signing of Prince Fielder to play first base and the probable move of lumbering Miguel Cabrera to third base many national pundits suggested the Tigers, while formidable at the plate, might have some defensive issues in 2012. Neither behemoth’s name has ever been mentioned in the same sentence as “Gold Glove” and both have the lateral movement of a tank stuck in mud. Leyland, however, finally revealed his strategy for winning the franchise’s first world championship since 1984: His pitchers will simply be asked to strike out every batter they face for the entire season.
“We have big power arms (starters such as AL MVP Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer as well as a relief corps featuring flamethrowers such as Al Albuquerque and Jose Valverde), guys who, if they put their mind to it, should be able to just whiff anybody and everybody in the American League,” Leyland said after another delicious puff of sweet tobacco. “Putting Miggy at third is a cosmetic move. We have to at least put a player out there according to league rules, but I can’t realistically expect him to field a bunt or even bend down to pick up a stray hot dog wrapper blown on the field. He’s not built for that, he’s built for putting balls 80 rows into the bleachers. Same with Prince, he might experience shortness of breath if he had to move a couple feet to catch a pop-up.”
The veteran skipper admitted that there was only one player on his roster he any kind of defensive faith in, centerfielder Austin Jackson, but he was pretty sure Jackson didn’t have the necessary range to cover the whole field. Catcher Alex Avila was excited to hear the new game plan, noting he would use extra padding in his mitt in anticipation of catching so many strikes.
The only members of the Tigers who expressed any doubts in the strategy were all the pitchers. Apparently Leyland had yet to share his new philosophy with any of his them and they, after finding out via Leyland’s Facebook status, muttered profanities and cited baseball history. Meanwhile, Verlander tweeted: “No team has K’d every other batter before. What’s the old fool smoking?”
Brandon Inge also complained about something, but nobody really listened.