Monday, August 3, 2009

Leyland goes to bat for hitting coach McClendon

        Last season, it was Tigers’ pitching coach Chuck Hernandez who felt the heat for the team’s poor performance. Eventually, it cost Hernandez his job. This year, as the Tiger hitters continue to flounder, it is batting coach Lloyd McClendon who is under attack.
        And Jim Leyland, McClendon’s boss and long-time friend, doesn’t want to hear it.
        “I know this much: We’ve got a great hitting club  and we’ve got a great hitting coach,” the manager declared Monday. “For whatever reason, we haven’t hit the way we expected.
        “But our hitting coach is the same hitting coach we had when Magglio Ordonez hit .363 and led the league. It’s the same hitting coach we had when Placido Polanco got 200 hits and batted .341. It’s the same hitting coach we had when Miguel Cabrera led the league in home runs.”
        To drive that message home to his players, Leyland addressed the struggling Tiger hitters Monday when they met, as usual, with McClendon after batting practice to discuss the strengths and weakness of the Baltimore pitchers they will be facing this week.
        The manager’s message: “I think it’s a good idea right now for us to simplify. You, as individuals can go to Lloyd and tell him how much information you want. Here it is. How much information do you want?”
        “That way,” Leyland explained, when he met with the media in his Comerica Park office, “there’s no b.s.
        “It’s for them to tell Lloyd exactly how much they want to know about that night’s pitcher. I do think there are a lot of times when the information gets too sophisticated.
        “But,” the manager added,” a lot of times, the players who bitch about having too much information will be the same guys who bitch about not having enough information when they’re not hitting.
        “That’s what I call diversionary tactics.
        “Our offense has been a real mystery to me,” Leyland admitted. “I’m shocked that we haven’t done better, offensively.  I thought they’d be better. I don’t have an explanation. I wish I did.”
        But the numbers speak for themselves -- especially on the road.


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