Notes: Leyland prefers the small town

Notes: Leyland prefers the small town

DETROIT -- Jim Leyland has earned a reputation as a manager who can turn a team into a winner. But he wouldn't want to try to do it in the Bronx.

It has nothing to do with the owner or the ballclub. It's everything that goes with it, including the town.

"They have more people on the toilets in Yankee Stadium than [lived in] in the town where I grew up," the Perrysburg, Ohio native said.

Leyland has a lot of respect for what Joe Torre has accomplished in that role, but that has a little to do with friendship. They managed against each other back in the National League, when Torre was still managing the Cardinals and Leyland was in Pittsburgh.

"Obviously, during my sabbatical, I didn't see him much," Leyland said. "But we've played golf together, we've been at roasts together. They don't come any classier than Joe Torre. People got it figured right that he's one guy that's probably perfect for that situation. A lot of other guys would not be. Not everybody could handle the situation that Joe Torre has. I doubt that very much.

"It's amazing what he's done. They can talk all they want about good teams, good payrolls and good players. They have every bit of that. But there's a lot of people who couldn't handle that situation. It's hard. It's unbelievable. I think a lot of it is his background. Joe's a New York guy."

Leyland, of course, is not.

"It's a catch-22 question," he said. "First of all, would it be an honor to manage the New York Yankees? Absolutely. Would it be [for me]? I think I'm too hyper. I don't think I would've lasted two weeks.

"Let's put it this way: I'm not as distinguished, I'm not as patient and I'm not as understanding as Joe Torre. Now, anybody would like to manage the New York Yankees. But is it for everybody? No, it's not."

Speed at the top: For the sixth time this season, Leyland gave leadoff man Curtis Granderson a day off. For the fourth time in those six occasions, he put a power hitter in the second spot. Regular No. 2 hitter Placido Polanco moved into the leadoff spot on Monday, and Marcus Thames hit second.

It's an idea Leyland picked up from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"I think it's valuable if you don't have a lot of speed," he said. "If you don't have a lot of speed at the top to create runs, I think it's a good idea sometimes to get that bat, depending on the pitcher, depending on the matchup.

"If you're going to be creative, because you've got speed and you're going to generate some stuff, that's one thing. But if you don't have speed, you might as well take a shot that the lineup turns over and somebody might pop one for you."

In other words, having a contact hitter in the second spot makes more sense with a guy who can advance bases ahead of him than with someone who can't.

Speaking of Polanco: His third-inning walk Monday was his first in 186 plate appearances since Scott Elarton walked him on Opening Day. He still has the fewest walks of any Major League hitter with at least 175 plate appearances, one walk behind Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur and Colorado's Clint Barmes.

Keeping tabs: When the Yankees signed former Tiger Carlos Pena to a Minor League contract in mid-April, it appeared almost a given that he'd be coming back to Comerica Park in a New York uniform for this series. Instead, the Yankees have cleared up their uncertainty at first base, and Pena is in Triple-A Columbus hosting Buffalo.

Pena entered Monday batting .246 (31-for-126) for the Clippers with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He has 36 strikeouts, but also has 24 walks.

"We're aware of him," Torre said on Monday, "but right now, we don't have a spot available. We have an outfielder [Bubba Crosby] coming back, and we don't know how we're going to get him in."

Pena's contract reportedly included an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent again if the Yankees hadn't promoted him by May 2. He decided not to exercise it, though it's believed he has another such date later in the year.

More Leyland on Bonds: Leyland planned to get in touch with his former Pirates outfielder Barry Bonds again to congratulate him on passing Babe Ruth for second on the Majors' all-time home run list.

Asked whether he'd like to see Bonds pass Hank Aaron for the top spot, Leyland said: "I want to see him do it if he can play. I know him well enough that I don't think you'll ever see Barry play if he thinks he's going to embarrass himself. He won't stay on just to do it. I'd be shocked. He'd be too proud of a guy for that."

Coming up: Roman Colon (0-0, 3.60 ERA) has his first start for Detroit this season on Tuesday when the Tigers and Yankees meet again at 7:05 p.m. ET. Aaron Small (0-2, 8.59 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.