Leyland: Big guys need to start hitting

Leyland: Big guys need to start hitting

MINNEAPOLIS -- Manager Jim Leyland makes no illusions about the offensive keys for the Tigers. They've had some success with Clete Thomas batting third, Jeff Larish fifth or sixth, and others in and out, but it's the star hitters such as Magglio Ordonez that will determine the fate of this team.

"All along, we've talked about this," Leyland said after Tuesday's loss. "I think for us to be good, we need Magglio to hit third. We need stuff like that. We need guys knocking in some runs, and that's one of the scenarios that would help us.

"I think the kids have done a great job. Obviously, Larish has done a good job. Thomas is getting on base. But in actuality, we need the big guys to knock in runs. That's as simple as it is. That's not putting any pressure on anybody. That's just a fact of life. The young guys, you don't really expect to knock in a lot of runs, so your veteran players are the guys who have to knock in the runs."

That doesn't mean Ordonez is hitting third again soon. Leyland had him in the fifth spot Wednesday, behind Miguel Cabrera, and Thomas again batting third. But it means they need to get to that point where Ordonez is back in a groove offensively.

"It takes time to learn how to knock in runs," Leyland said. "That at-bat becomes a little bit different for [young players]. They press a little bit more. They get a little antsier."

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