DETROIT -- One year ago around this time, Ryan Raburn was on his way to getting booed out of Detroit. His experiment as the Tigers' regular second baseman was going horribly, offensively and defensively, and the fan response was growing.
Manager Jim Leyland waited it out, hoping Raburn would get that one hit to spark him on the kind of roll that he gets on -- the kind of roll he's on right now. It never happened, and it was probably the decision fans critiqued the most during Leyland's oft-questioned contract year.
Now, as Raburn returns to Detroit in a Cleveland Indians uniform coming off American League Player of the Week honors for going 11-for-12 with four home runs in a four-game stretch, Leyland is trying to put the blame on himself for Raburn not working out as an everyday player.
"Everybody knows what I think of Ryan Raburn," Leyland said Thursday. "I always have, and I always will. And I know he's a talented player, and if he gets comfortable again he's going to do well. I think I probably screwed him up last year making him a second baseman. If I had played him part time in the outfield and moved him around and not just had high expectations, he'd have probably been fine. So I'll take the responsibility for that. He's a talented guy.
"It was probably my fault. I just thought maybe we could get 15 home runs out of him playing second base. It didn't work, so it's my mistake."
Raburn, who talked with reporters before batting practice, respected Leyland's thought, but wasn't willing to put that on him.
"I appreciate him thinking it was his fault. It was nobody's fault," he said. "I think it's just the nature of the game. You go through spurts where it seems like nothing goes right for you and you go through spurts where there's nothing you can do wrong. It was just one of those years where it was going to go wrong. It did last year. But nobody is to blame. I was the one out there playing and I just didn't get it done."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.