Notes: Leyland talks about fracas

Notes: Leyland talks about fracas

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland is pretty confident the Orioles hit Gary Sheffield on purpose, and he has no problem with that. But he doesn't want to see matters escalate to where somebody gets hurt.

A day after the Tigers and Orioles cleared their benches, and umpires separated Jeremy Bonderman and Sheffield from Miguel Tejada and Daniel Cabrera, respectively, Leyland defended the right of pitchers to throw inside. However, he cautioned that it's up to the pitcher to do so responsibly without becoming a threat to hurt hitters.

"I think it's very important to pitch inside," he said. "I think you have to pitch inside. I think, at the same time, if you're consistently trying to pitch inside, and you start plunking a bunch of people, then eventually somebody gets ticked off. That's understandable. If you're going to pitch inside, then you have to get to the point where you can pitch inside without plunking a bunch of people."

He wasn't talking about Cabrera specifically. In his case, he believes it was a purpose pitch, like some of the four other hit-by-pitches Sheffield has taken this season. But whereas Sheffield didn't take exception to the pitch off of his back Monday night, Tejada took a different reaction.

"We knew what went on last night," Leyland said. "We knew what went in the dugout. We knew Sheffield got hit on purpose, and I don't blame their pitcher one bit. You've got a superstar, veteran player that thinks -- which was not the case at all -- he was being thrown at."

Leyland's preference is to not throw at anybody.

"I don't like any of it," he said. "I don't like any part of it. I don't like to see a hitter from any team being thrown at. You will never see me initiate that, ever. I can tell you that right now. I think it's too dangerous. I don't want to sit here and see some other guy's career ended."

Guillen to sit until Friday: What originally looked like a rare day off for shortstop Carlos Guillen could actually end up being three days of relative rest, if Leyland can help it. After Guillen felt more issues with his throwing shoulder Monday night, Leyland decided to keep him out of the lineup on Tuesday night. He also plans to do so on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Thursday's off-day, if possible.

"We'll see if we can get his shoulder to quiet down," Leyland said. "Before the game [on Monday], he said it felt pretty good. He said he actually felt improvement. And then after the game, it felt tired. It's just a precautionary thing. He's a big part of our team. I'm not going to get greedy."

Guillen pinch-hit in the eighth inning, drew a leadoff walk and scored the go-ahead run.

Stealthy Sheff: What Sheffield lacked in power, he nearly made up for in his baserunning. With four stolen bases in April, Sheffield actually finished with twice as many steals as home runs. He equaled his April stolen base total from last season, and the last time he stole more bases in a month was April 2003.

It's ironic, since Leyland had talked about bringing in a fundamentally sound baserunner leading up to last offseason. He ended up getting the "thumper" he wanted in the lineup, but despite a low batting average, Sheffield has done more than expected by simply getting on base.

When Leyland was asked about Sheffield's go-ahead homer Monday night, he mentioned his baserunning in the same breath. When Sheffield was hit by a pitch in his previous at-bat, he stole second base, then advanced to third on a wild pitch to set up his run on a Magglio Ordonez single.

"I think it goes unnoticed," Leyland said, "but he's one of the better baserunners in the league, too. He might not be the fastest, but he's a very good baserunner, good instincts on the bases. He's done very well there so far."

He'll never match his career-high 25 stolen bases from 1990, his first full season in Milwaukee, but he reached double-digits in steals in 12 out of 13 seasons before injuries halted his 2006 campaign at five.

Sheffield credits instincts more than speed, but he can't credit anybody with particular with his instincts.

"I can't critique what I knew, and when I knew it. I just did," he said. "There's just some things you can't explain, how you see things that other people don't. I think when I'm on base, I know when I can get from point A to point B without being out, and I can't explain how. It's just when I'm out there, if I am out, it's going to be a bang-bang play."

Mesa completes rehab: Jose Mesa scattered two singles over two scoreless innings with a strikeout Tuesday night in his rehab appearance for Triple-A Toledo. Mesa threw 18 of his 23 pitches for strikes against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Coming up: The Tigers and Orioles finish their season series Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. ET matinee at Comerica Park. Nate Robertson (2-1, 2.43), who hasn't won in three starts since his April 10 meeting with the O's in Baltimore, will meet up with Steve Trachsel (1-2, 4.13) in the rematch.

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