Leyland: Dirks should take winter off
DETROIT — The Dominican Republic may be losing their hero — at least this season.
Andy Dirks, who has played in the Dominican Winter League the last two years, might not return after this season.
"If I was Dirks, I would not play winter ball," manager Jim Leyland said the other day. "This is his first full, long major league season. I'm a firm believer that you have to get away from it."
Last season playing for Este, Dirks hit the series-winning hit, hence the nickname Dominican Hero.
Dirks did miss extended time this year with Achilles tendinitis, which is another reason Leyland would not recommend playing winter ball again.
"Dirks needs to get stronger." Leyland said. "I don't know yet whether he can take the wear and tear of playing every day. He's a very good baseball player. Potentially a very good major league player."
In 81 games this season, Dirks is batting .316 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs.
For Dirks, it's not something he's considered yet as his focus is elsewhere.
"I'm not even really thinking about that right now," Dirks said. "I'll make the decision after the season, maybe later into the offseason. We got these eight games left. That's where my mind is."
Last season at this time, the Tigers had already wrapped up the Central Division. Currently, they're tied with the Chicago White Sox at 82-72 with eight games to go.
"It's fun, really," Dirks said. "To be competing for something, it means more than just being out there playing. For me, I'm excited and it's an exciting time for us. It's something that you just have to enjoy and it's going to play out the way it plays out. In the next eight days, we'll find out."
Porcello still working on things
Rick Porcello, who started Wednesday night's game, has won 47 games in the majors, which is not bad for someone who doesn't turn 24 until December 27.
Yet there are things he's still working on to get better.
"At some point the consistency in the secondary stuff has to, and I think will get better," Leyland said. "Basically what we need Rick to do is carry over the secondary stuff that he shows in the bullpen to the mound."
Leyland said that in a way, because Porcello has such a good sinker, he might rely on it too much in games because it's what he's good at. But Leyland believes he has the ability to do more.
"The point I'm trying to make here is I think he has to learn to trust that stuff more during the game because that's how you get better at it," Leyland said. "I'm a firm believer in bullpen sessions because I think there's a lot to it, especially if you're trying to develop a pitch or work on something. But the best way to gets done is to do it during a game. He should develop into the pitcher that we think he's going to develop into."
Mail scare at Comerica Park
According to the Oakland Press, one of the Tigers players received a package that was deemed suspicious Wednesday.
Authorities were called to check it out and fortunately, found nothing dangerous.
Tigers vice president of communications Ron Colangelo gave the Oakland Press the following statement:
"A package was delivered to Comerica Park and based on security protocol, local authorities were contacted. A thorough preliminary investigation proceeded by both local authorities and Comerica Park security, and the package was deemed a valid delivery."