Leyland's silence lets Tigers players' appreciation speak loudly

DETROIT - Thursday's bench-clearing melee between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers had everyone talking.

Everyone except Jim Leyland.

The Tigers manager finally broke his silence before the team's game against the Texas Rangers, and while he wouldn't get into specifics, he did explain his philosophy behind charging the umpires with such enthusiasm.

"I don't stick up for my players when they're wrong. That's number one. Number two is I think they were right. And when you don't stick up for him, you might as well pack your bags," he said.

Leyland said he didn't want to talk with reporters after the game Thursday because he felt anything he might say would harm the team. He cited his comments in Tampa Bay after Fernando Rodney threw at Miguel Cabrera as a reason to stay quiet this time around.

After that pitch, Leyland said there was a price to pay. Rick Porcello plunked Ben Zobrist the next day, and was consequently suspended five games.

Because Leyland didn't talk this time around, he let the players' remarks carry the conversation. And because of that, their appreciation for their manager spoke volumes.

"It says a lot about the skipper," catcher Brayan Pena said. "It says a lot about how he respects his players, his passion for his team, and we (are) very happy to have him."

Alex Avila said he wasn't surprised to see Leyland get so hot, but Thursday was unique.

"He's been my manager for five years, so I've seen him do that quite a bit. That is the maddest I've ever seen him, though," he admitted.

Leyland agreed.

"That's the maddest I've been in eight years. I lost it."

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli

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