Leyland hosts Tigers manager for a day

LAKELAND, Fla. -- One of the first tips Chuck Gotberg received as the Tigers' manager for a day came from one of the players. After seeing Gotberg wearing high socks like Jim Leyland during batting practice, Prince Fielder came over and corrected him.

"Prince said, 'We want to have a cool manager,'" Leyland said.

The manager for a day promotion in Spring Training has become a big draw for the Tigers in their charity auctions, enough that the club has two scheduled for this spring. The guest manager gets to take the lineup card to the umpiring crew at home plate before the game, sit with Leyland in the dugout, discuss strategy and sometimes put a play on.

He also gets to sit with Leyland in his pregame and postgame sessions with reporters.

"When they boo me," Leyland said beforehand, "I'll say, 'Blame it on Chuck.'"

Gotberg actually did have an idea when the Tigers were trying to rally, suggesting a sacrifice bunt from Bryan Holaday once Kevin Russo and Danny Worth both reached base with nobody out. In a regular-season scenario, Leyland said he might have done it. In a Spring Training setting, when reserve catchers usually only get an at-bat or two in a game, Leyland would rather let them swing.

Holaday flew out to left.

Gotberg won the honor through an auction last August to benefit Ilitch Charities. Gotberg owns American Manufacturing in Toledo, Ohio, where the company makes steel containers for Michigan's auto industry. He called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"There's nowhere else in the world you can get this," Gotberg said, "so I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time [at the auction]."