DETROIT -- Jim Leyland managed Mark Fidrych in the Tigers' farm system in the 1970s, and he watched a Fidrych game as a fan at Tiger Stadium during the right-hander's magical 1976 rookie season. So when he talks about the phenomenon that "The Bird" created, he knows it from experience.
He sees some of the same reaction over Angels wunderkind Mike Trout.
"This is a little exaggeration, because it's a different type of admiration, but this is a Mark Fidrych-type thing," Leyland said about fan reaction. "Here's this young kid, and everybody's paying attention to him. It's great for the game."
Leyland noted that there's an influx of young players making an impact this year, citing Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie before he was injured, plus others. That type of infusion with new faces, he said, can be good for the game.
From a publicity standpoint, Fidrych might be a fitting comparison. From a talent and impact standpoint, the last 20-year-old to make that big of a splash might be Miguel Cabrera, whose rookie season with the 2003 Marlins ended in a World Series title.
When asked if Trout's rookie season reminded him of his own, Cabrera said, "He's better."