A picture of Jim Leyland’s face stared out from the video board at an empty Comerica Park, next to that familiar Olde English ‘‘D’’ and a message that said simply: ‘‘Thank You Jim.’’
After eight seasons managing the Tigers, including three division titles and two American League pennants, Leyland stepped down Monday. His voice cracking at times, wiping away tears at others, he announced his departure two days after Detroit was eliminated by the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.
‘‘It’s been a thrill,’’ the 68-year-old Leyland said during a news conference at the ballpark. ‘‘I came here to change talent to team, and I think with the help of this entire organization, I think we’ve done that. We’ve won quite a bit. I’m very grateful to have been a small part of that.’’
Leyland made his managerial debut with the Pirates in 1986, and from Barry Bonds to Miguel Cabrera, he’s managed some of the sport’s biggest stars and been involved in some of baseball’s most memorable games over the past quarter-century.
In 1992, his Pirates lost Game 7 of the NLCS when Atlanta rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning. Five years later, Leyland won his only World Series title as manager when his Marlins beat Cleveland in an 11-inning thriller in Game 7.
He’s experienced some of the highest highs the game has to offer, but he also endured difficult rebuilding periods in both Pittsburgh and Florida.
After one season with the Colorado Rockies, Leyland didn’t manage at all from 2000-05 before Detroit hired him. Leyland led the Tigers to the World Series immediately after taking over in 2006, losing to St. Louis in five games. The Tigers went to the World Series again in 2012 but were swept by San Francisco.
Leyland worked under one-year contracts the last couple years, saying he was content to wait until after the season to address his status.
He’d actually told general manager Dave Dombrowski in early September that he didn’t want to return as manager. He expects to remain with the organization in some capacity after going 700-597 as a manager.
‘‘I’m not totally retiring today, I’m just not going to be in the dugout anymore,’’ Leyland said.
Leyland is 1,769-1,728 overall in a big league managing career that started in 1986.
Reds going with Price
The Reds will fill their managerial vacancy on Tuesday by naming pitching coach Bryan Price as Dusty Baker’s replacement, according to multiple reports. Price has been a pitching coach in the majors for 14 years, the last three with Cincinnati. Baker was fired after the Reds were eliminated in the wild-card round, ending his six-year tenure . . . The losing manager in the NLCS also spoke Monday, and Don Mattingly said he isn’t sure he’ll be back with the Dodgers next season, even though his 2014 contract option vested with the team’s Division Series victory over Atlanta. Mattingly said that the organization put him in a difficult position with his players by not exercising a team option going into the final year of his three-year deal. ‘‘It’s been a frustrating, tough year, honestly,’’ he told media while sitting next to GM Ned Colletti. Mattingly’s option worth $1.4 million would allow him to return, but the team has yet to say anything about his future.
Surgery for Cabrera?
Cabrera, the Tigers star slugger, might need surgery to repair a tear in his groin that limited him in the playoffs. Cabrera hit .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs this season, but he was bothered for the last couple of months by a number of injuries. He batted .262 with two home runs in 11 postseason games and was hindered in the field. Dombrowski said Monday that Cabrera was checked by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia before the postseason . . . Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle and should be ready by the start of next season.
More A-Rod drama
Blocked from holding a news conference in New York to present a person they described as a ‘‘major league baseball whistleblower,’’ Alex Rodriguez’s lawyers asked that the rest of the grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game drug suspension be opened to the public. Rodriguez’s legal team called a 5 p.m. news conference at the midtown Manhattan office of Reed Smith, one of the law firms representing the Yankees third baseman. More than an hour later, Reed Smith partner James McCarroll said arbitrator Fredric Horowitz issued an order restraining them from ‘‘conducting any press conference or briefing regarding the subject matter of the hearing.’’ Rodriguez’s lawyers would not say whether the ‘‘whistleblower’’ worked for Major League Baseball, one of its teams, or some other affiliate. One person familiar with Monday’s developments, speaking on condition of anonymity because no additional statements had been authorized, said an MLB employee had written to Rodriguez’s lawyers expressing unhappiness with MLB’s investigation methods . . . Former Red Sox coach Tim Bogar was hired as bench coach for the Rangers. Bogar spent this season as manager at Double A Arkansas in the Angels’ organization.