Jim Leyland has said he wants to return as the Detroit Tigers’ manager next year.
Tony La Russa can tell that just by watching his close friend work.
“He’s as passionate now as he was the first day he managed,” La Russa said Wednesday, before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series was postponed. “You can tell. Look at his face in the ninth inning (of Game 3), when (Phil) Coke was facing (Raul) Ibañez.”
What keeps Leyland going at age 67? “He loves the competition,” La Russa said. “He loves the game of baseball. And he knows he does it well.”
La Russa, 68, retired with the most wins of any living manager after the St. Louis Cardinals won his third World Series title last year. Leyland doesn’t have a contract for next year but is widely expected to return to the Tigers. When asked if he would advise his friend to duplicate that rare career move — win it all and retire — La Russa smiled.
“If I told him that, he would manage 10 more years,” quipped La Russa, who now works for Major League Baseball. “He does the exact opposite of what I tell him to do. If I tell him how lousy it is, then he might retire.”
— Jon Paul Morosi