Leyland unfazed by Boesch's struggles

Leyland unfazed by Boesch's struggles

DETROIT -- Since the All-Star break, the Tigers' offense has sputtered. No one is feeling the struggles more than rookie slugger Brennan Boesch.

Prior to the break, the rookie owned a .342 average with 49 RBIs and 12 home runs in his 65 games since a mid-April callup from Triple-A Toledo. Boesch has gone 3-for-29 (.103 average) from the plate in seven games since the All-Star break with one RBI and no home runs.

Although the Tigers snapped their losing streak Wednesday night, Boesch wasn't an offensive factor. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two flyouts that came on the first pitch. His third flyout of the game came on the second pitch. His struggles were enough for Tigers manager Jim Leyland to announce that the rookie will get a day off Thursday, his first time out of the starting lineup since May 30.

"Yeah I am," Leyland said, when asked by a reporter if he was concerned about Boesch's slump, "but not as much as everybody else is. I tried to warn everybody. You don't hit .380 and .400 off left-handers all year coming up here. I'm going to give him a rest tomorrow and get him out of here for a day against a tough lefty, and give him a little blow."

Leyland called Boesch "lightning in a bottle" during the first half, and said Boesch has been a difference-maker, giving the Tigers a chance to contend for the American League Central.

"The hottest story in town was Boesch," Leyland said. "So every TV station and every writer is going to go to Boesch. But I know that's all going to blow over. As a manager, I can't react to all of the great stuff and some of the bad stuff. I can't do that. I have to stay steady. My job is to continue to tell Brennan Boesch what it is to be a big leaguer, like missing the cutoff man. My job is to remind him. It's not to get on him or brow beat him or any of that stuff. It's not after three weeks to tell him he's going to the Hall of Fame. My job is to stay steady."

When Boesch was red-hot during the first half, Leyland didn't want anyone talking to Boesch about his hitting style or giving him tips on how to improve from the plate. The skipper loves Boesch's "see the ball, hit the ball" mentality. Despite the slump, Leyland doesn't want Boesch to become too selective from the plate, even though opposing teams are pitching him differently and taking him more seriously.

"They are throwing him off with changeups and they are messing with him up here and in," Leyland said. "This is the big leagues. He is good. I think he's got a chance to be one heck of a player. But he's not going to keep up. If he kept up the pace, he'd have had 120 RBIs at the end of the year out of the clear blue. The guy didn't even make the team [out of Spring Training]. It ain't going to happen.

"It's a growing process. He's going to be great, I think. I believe that. He's really going to be good. But he's going to have to go through those periods. It's a growing process."