Leyland: Ball kiss not 'a smart thing'
BY JANIE MCCAULEY Associated Press
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
10/09/12 at 5:28 AM
OAKLAND, Calif. - Ideally, 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 AL division series Tuesday. The Tigers lead 2-0 and are one win from advancing to a second straight AL championship series.
Leyland says reliever Al Alburquerque meant no ill will toward the Athletics when he fielded Yoenis Cespedes' ninth-inning comebacker and quickly kissed the ball before throwing to first. Yet the manager disagreed with the display.
"Everybody always says I'm from the old school, so I'd have probably hugged it first," Leyland joked. "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.
"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," Leyland said.
As upstart Oakland returned home hoping to pull off another improbable sweep like the one against Texas last week to capture the AL West crown, that smooch was still plenty talked about in both clubhouses.
Alburquerque, a former Tulsa Driller, said he did speak to his teammates and that they knew his gesture was "within the emotion of the game."
"I respect Cespedes, and I didn't do it out of disrespect," the pitcher said. "I was just excited to get the out."
Still, that didn't mean the Tigers weren't surprised by it.
"I said, 'Did I see what I just saw?'" catcher Gerald Laird said.
Cespedes was eager to get to his baseball work Monday, saying: "That's his problem. It doesn't bother me. It was his turn to win. Someday it will be my turn."
Even though everybody realized full well they should be focused on the game itself.
"I know him, so I know he didn't mean much by it," injured A's third baseman and former Tiger Brandon Inge said. "But I'm sure he's going to regret it."