Leyland would never say it. He hasn't said it to me. But even without talking to Leyland, people who know him or have watched him through the years look at Pena and Logan and figure they're not long for the Tigers.Could this be the end for Pena as a Tiger? We may find out within a week as the Tigers would only have to pay one-sixth of his 2.8 million dollar salary if they release him by March 15. If they release him between March 15 and opening day, then they would be responsible for one-fourth of his salary. There is no doubt another team would pick him up quickly if he were to be released but he may not have trade value with his 2.8 million dollar salary.
Dave Dombrowski has always been a big fan of Pena so the decision might not be totally in the hands of Leyland. However, Leyland will almost certainly have a lot more input on roster decisions than managers of the recent past. Another factor , and I think this is a big one, is the health of Dmitri Young. If he continues to have problems with strained quads, calves and hamstrings, it might be difficult for the Tigers to release Pena.
As the above quote suggests, Nook Logan is apparently also not a favorite of Leyland and he might not be guaranteed a spot on the 25 man roster. At the same time, Leyland is very impressed with Curtis Granderson. I have felt all along that the supposed center field battle between Granderson and Logan was not a serious one. I think that Granderson won the job at the end of last year but that Leyland does not want to be perceived as handing a job to a virtual rookie.
Two young players that have impressed Leyland very much are Jordan Tata and Brent Clevlen:
Another young guy to keep your eye on is 24-year-old RHP Jordan Tata, the Florida State League pitcher of the Year last year. He threw 2 2/3 innings again today. He's getting a chance to impress, and so far he's grabbing it. Tata has always been a starter, but it's not completely out of the question that Leyland would put him in the major-league bullpen.I really can't see either Tata or Clevlen making the team as neither one has played above A ball. However, that fact that Leyland likes them could mean that they would get called up sooner than expected.
Leyland admits it's a little bit of a stretch to have Clevlen jump from A-ball to the big leagues, but Clevlen is very good and has been very impressive.
At any rate, with a little more than three weeks to go until opening day, it's starting to get interesting. Stay tuned.