Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland insists reliever Al Alburquerque meant no ill will toward the Oakland Athletics when he fielded Yoenis Cespedes' ninth-inning comebacker and quickly kissed the baseball before throwing to first Sunday.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Ideally, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland would have everybody hug it out and play ball.
Just as Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Coco Crisp of Oakland did on the field for Monday’s workout day ahead of their teams’ Game 3 in the American League Division Series on Tuesday. The Tigers lead 2-0 and are one victory from advancing to a second consecutive AL Championship Series.
Leyland insists reliever Al Alburquerque meant no ill will toward the Athletics when he fielded Yoenis Cespedes’ ninth-inning comebacker and quickly kissed the baseball before throwing to first for the out Sunday in Game 2. Yet the manager disagreed with the display.
“Everybody always says I’m from the old school, so I’d have probably hugged it first,” said Leyland, joking. “I don’t think it was the right thing to do. I will sit here today and I will not try to defend it. I will say that I can assure everybody, including the Oakland A’s, Al Alburquerque did nothing intentionally to offend the Oakland A’s. A lot of emotion is shown in different ways in the game anymore. You see a lot of different variations of personal celebrations as well as team celebrations.
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“It wasn’t a smart thing to do, but I can honestly tell you that there is no way that Al Alburquerque or any members of the Detroit Tigers would ever do anything intentionally to offend another team. It just would not happen.”
Alburquerque said, “I respect Cespedes and I didn’t do it out of disrespect. I was just excited to get the out.”
Injured Oakland infielder Brandon Inge, a former Tiger, said of Alburquerque, “I know him, so I know he didn’t mean much by it.”
Inge added, “For us, our ultimate retaliation or comeback would be to win three. We’re not concerned with the actions of one person. On their side, I’m sure he didn’t really want to stir up a hornet’s nest over here, either.”
Oakland will try to get its offense going after striking out 23 times in the first two games, including 14 in Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Game 1. The A’s struck out 1,387 times in the regular season, a league record. But their style also produced 195 home runs.
“It’s worked well for us,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin, an ex-Mariners manager, said in the Contra Costa Times. “It’s not like the last day you’re going to say, ‘Today let’s work on cutting our swing down and choke up two inches on two strikes.’ “
• Ex-Boston manager Terry Francona was introduced as Cleveland’s manager; he has a four-year contract.
“I don’t want to be a rental manager,” said Francona, 53. “I didn’t want to come in worried. I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick around. I didn’t come here to go to pasture.”