Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Players deal with pennant race in different ways

        The start of Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians was still nearly four hours away, but outside the front entrance to the Tigers’ Comerica Park clubhouse the players’ lunch room was already crowded.
        However, no one was eating.
        At tables scattered around the room, Brandon Inge, Clete Thomas, Adam Everett, Ryan Raburn, Aubrey Huff, Alex Avila and others all had their eyes focused on the TV screens where the Chicago White Sox were coming from two runs down in the ninth inning to beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-2.
        Across the hall, in the manager’s office, Jim Leyland and several of his coaches, including Gene Lamont, Lloyd McClendon, and Jeff Jones, were doing the same.
        “It’s that time of the year,” Leyland said. “Of course, I would have watched that game if it was May.”
        But don’t get the idea the Tiger players are uptight, feeling the pressure of the pennant race.
        While the third-place were doing the Tigers a favor by rallying to beat the second-place Twins, inside the clubhouse proper several players were passing the time before their game by flying toy helicopters and airplanes, which has become almost a daily routine for some.
        Leyland didn’t mind that, either.
        “I’ve told them, ‘Do what you do,’ ”  the manager said. “I don’t want them just sitting there, staring at the TV. I want them to enjoy this.”
         So far, it appears that they are.


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