Tigers manager Jim Leyland jokes around with bench coach Gene Lamont during practice Tuesday at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
The Tigers are traveling to California on Wednesday.
But, Jim Leyland had no plans to get away from baseball Tuesday night. His former team, the Pirates, were set to play a playoff game — the wild card against the Reds —for the first time since he was their manager.
“Pittsburgh’s hopping,” said Leyland, who makes his home there. “It’s great. It’s a lot of excitement like it is here.”
Leyland’s wife, Katie, was set to drive into Detroit and the two planned to go out to dinner and watch the game. Their son, Patrick, was heading to PNC Park to watch the game.
Leyland, though, wouldn’t openly root for the Pirates to beat the Reds in the one-game playoff.
“I don’t want to get into that,” he said, smiling.
“I worked for the guy that’s playing them,” he said.
That would be Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who was a Cardinals executive when Leyland was working for that organization before he took the Tigers managerial job.
Leyland managed the Pirates from 1986-96, guiding them to three consecutive division titles from 1990-92.
Alabama alum Avila has sympathy for Michigan State
The smile, it said it all.
Alex Avila is a huge football fan — he was engrossed in the Saints shellacking of his Dolphins on Monday — and an even bigger Alabama fan. That is his alma mater, after all.
So when asked why Alabama dropped Michigan State from its future schedule, all Avila could do was crack a smile.
Then, simply said, “It’s probably good for Michigan State.”