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Leyland reminisces on blasts from past

Leyland reminisces on blasts from past

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland looked over the list of pitchers his hitters would be facing the next couple days and saw a familiar name.

"Drabek," he said, with a hint of surprise.

Doug Drabek was the staff ace for Leyland's National League East title teams in Pittsburgh. Come Thursday, Leyland will be watching Drabek's son, Kyle, on the mound for Toronto.

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Yup, it has gotten to that point in Leyland's career.

Leyland summed up how he feels about that in one word: "Old."

Leyland vaguely remembers Kyle Drabek around the Pirates' clubhouse during those years, but he wasn't even school age during those years. Kyle Drabek was born in December 1987; Doug Drabek pitched with the Pirates from '87-92.

Leyland hasn't seen Kyle pitch, but he has heard about him. He played in last summer's All-Star Futures Game as a member of the Phillies' organization before he became a key cog in the Roy Halladay trade this past offseason. He ranked 17th on MLB.com's Top 50 prospect list in January, and hit 25th on Baseball America's Top 100.

Leyland remembers the elder Drabek fondly.

"He just had all the pitches -- fastball, curve, slider, change," Leyland said of the former Cy Young Award winner. "He could throw any of them at any time. He's one of the guys I was talking about: He's liable to throw you a 2-1 breaking ball or a 3-2 breaking ball and control it. That's one thing, I think, that's changed in the game a little bit. He was one of the best pitchers during that time. In the early '90s, he was one of the best in baseball. He was really good."

Come Thursday, Leyland will get a glimpse of what the next-generation Drabek will be bringing to the league.

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

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