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Leyland on picking Zobrist over Longoria

Detroit Tigers/AL All-Star manager Jim Leyland spoke Monday on the MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern about picking Ben Zobrist rather than Evan Longoria and some other selections. Some excerpts:

Leyland:  “I did a lot of research.  Believe it or not even I got a laptop.  I had four laptops going at one time in my room on several occasions during this process, looking at numbers, trying to keep up with numbers, trying to figure out what made sense for  a team.  Because you’re trying to win the game now so it’s a little bit different.  Not that you weren’t trying to win it before but because of what’s at stake, you know, does this player fit?  If everybody remembers, recently they added an extra player to the All-Star Game to have like a utility-type player.  That was suggested a few years back and they complied with that, we have that now.  And I won’t try to hide that, my pick for that was Ben Zobrist, who I think is a terrific pick as he was, I think, a couple of years ago.  So you try to do a very thorough job with the understanding that some people are going to get slighted but I don’t really think we’re taking anybody to the All-Star Game that doesn’t belong there.  I’m sure we’re not taking some people that do belong there, but I don’t think we’re taking anybody that doesn’t belong there.”

Stern:  “Specifically on the Ben Zobrist decision…how much has the fact that the game’s counted changed things, and is that right?  When you look at it from afar, as good a player - and he’s a very versatile player - as Zobrist is, tough for the Rays fan and, I think, for Jim and I covering it to see him representing that team instead of [Evan] Longoria.”

Leyland:  “Well, Evan Longoria was not voted on by the fans or the players.  And, you know, it is hard to take – I actually took three second basemen, and I’ll get into that – but we would have taken three third basemen, Evan Longoria, I would have loved to have Evan Longoria on the team.  Do I think he’s an All-Star?  Absolutely.  I think he’s one of the better players in the game.  However, in this case this particular year, he was not voted by either the fans or the players so that pretty much hamstrung me.  So that’s the reason for that.”

Bowden:  “…Can you talk about the decision on those three second basemen?”

Leyland:  “(Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia) were picked by the fans and the players so that was automatic.  I had no say in that.  And I added Jason Kipnis because I felt like I could justify, Jason Kipnis is a guy that might be very useable.  He’s got a lot of stolen bases.  We have the DH rule.  We have Big Papi, we have Encarnacion.  He might be a valuable guy to pinch run late in the game if he does not play second base.  Obviously, Cano is going to start.  Pedroia is going to pick him up.  So can you play three (second) basemen in nine innings?  That’s going to be a little difficult but I thought he’s a left-handed hitter, maybe he pinch hits, pinch runs.  I thought that I was justified in picking him and I think he’s earned it.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:57am]


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