"That's a guy that does whatever it takes to win and wins at all costs under the rules," Leyland said. "They know how to win games. What people don't understand is that type of guy can hit .240 and be just as important as a guy that hits .310, because he got a squeeze down, he broke up a double play, he tagged up from first on a long fly to left-center field. Those are the dirtballs I'm talking about."
Leyland carried on with his notion of "dirtballs" at length during his pregame session with the media Tuesday. Although not wanting to give names, the skipper said he's had these role players during his tenure with the Pirates, when they won three straight division titles from 1990-92, and in '06.
"A couple of dirtballs is always good," he said. "We're going to play a team tonight that's got those, I think ... It takes more than stars. That's just the way it is."
What they also have is an edge, he said. For the skipper, playing with an edge is important, especially as the Tigers try to battle back from a sub-.500 record. He said it Tuesday and he's mentioned it several times over the past few weeks.
"We've got a bunch of great guys," Leyland said. "I wish they had a little meaner streak in them from 7-10 [p.m.] and kept their other personalities the rest of the time."
Detroit has won seven of its past 10 games and Sunday's 5-0 win against the Rockies marked three straight series victories for the first time this season. The mean streak is there, but it's still a work in progress.
"I think we've had a lot of changes," Leyland said. "We've had a lot of ups and downs. ... That's all part of it, but actually we're holding up halfway decent. But we still got to get over that hump."