Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shopping for shoes, Leyland gets a new left fielder

        Did you ever wonder how roster moves are made in baseball? Sometimes such decisions are not nearly as intricate as you might think.
        Jim Leyland was at the Somerset mall in Troy before it opened Tuesday morning. He had driven out there to exchange a pair of designer shoes that he had gotten as a gift. But he didn’t know what time the stores opened and he arrived early.
        “I was sitting there on a bench, drinking a cup of coffee with all the mall walkers,” the Tigers manager said.
        Leyland was in the shoe store when his cell phone rang a few minutes past 10. It was Tigers’ president and general manager Dave Dombrowski calling.
        “Dave said, ‘You know, I had a brainstorm. Maybe it’s time to tinker with our roster a little.’ ” Leyland recounted later.
        “I said, ‘I think that’s a great idea.’ ”
        And that’s how rookie Wilkin Ramirez came to be in the big leagues Tuesday night.
        At 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Ramirez got the call in Toledo. Within an hour he was on his way north along I-75. Tuesday night, Ramirez was in the starting lineup, playing left field against the Baltimore Orioles.
        “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, we’re not trying to outsmart anybody,” Leyland said.
        “My boss had a good idea and I thought it was a good idea. This is action. This is what we do. Why not play with the roster a little bit? I think that’s what smart general managers do.
        “We’re going to juggle our roster for the next month or so, depending on what we find our  needs are. I think you’ve got to be a little creative if you’ve got the flexibility to do so. It only makes sense.”
        It was the depth in the Tigers’ farm system that enabled them to trade for Tuesday night’s starting pitcher, left hander Jarrod Washburn, last Friday. And it was that depth that allowed them to add another right handed hitter in the person of Ramirez to their lineup, at least for one night.
        “That’s what a farm system is for,” Leyland said. “Not only to provide you with players but also to allow you to get other players. You’ve got to give up something to get something.
        “I’m a big believer in the farm system because I spent a lot of time there,” Leyland said. “And I think we’ve got some nice pieces there.”
        Leyland isn’t sure how long Ramirez will remain in the big leagues. But he is sure this won’t be the last month this Tigers make this month.


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