PITTSBURGH -- Interleague Play is now in its 16th season. It's a part of baseball that many people appreciate, but manager Jim Leyland isn't one of them."People always kind of make fun of me, because we've actually done pretty good in Interleague Play," Leyland said of Detroit, which is 151-130 against the National League. The Tigers are 10-6 against the NL this season, having won two of three games in each of the five series they've played. This weekend's series in Pittsburgh marks the last time the Tigers will play the NL this year unless they make it to the World Series. "I always liked the fact that the American League played the National League in the World Series for all the marbles, and they had never played each other," Leyland said. "I thought that made [our sport], you know, a little bit the exception. I liked that. I liked that about the game." Even so, there are still some aspects Leyland, who formerly managed the Pirates, enjoys. "It's been kind of fun for me to get back under the National League rules, where you have to double switch and stuff," he said. "It gives you a little adrenaline, I think, when you're holding that card and you've got to make the different moves and double switches." Leyland is a big believer in having the same set of rules for each league. With the way things are, the NL has an advantage, because its pitchers have experience hitting all season. Leyland is partial to the designated hitter, but he's not about to go campaigning for change any time soon. "I've always said, 'Whatever's best for baseball is best for me,'" he said.
Fielder unfazed by boos from Bucs faithful
PITTSBURGH -- When Prince Fielder dug into the batter's box at PNC Park in the first inning of Friday night's game against the Pirates, it was the first time he had done so in a Tigers uniform.The burly first baseman went 0-for-4 in Detroit's 4-1 loss, and each time he strode to the plate, he was met with a chorus of hearty boos from the Pittsburgh faithful. He was neither surprised by the boos nor bothered by them. "I'm frustrated we lost," Fielder said before Saturday's game. "I don't play for myself." Fielder built up the bad blood by roundly pounding the Pirates during his time with the Brewers. Going into Saturday's game, Fielder was averaging a home run every 13 at-bats against the Bucs, better than anyone else in the league. Fielder has faced the Pirates 102 times in his career, with a .280 average, 77 RBIs, 14 doubles, one triple and 28 home runs. One of those homers came earlier this season at Comerica Park. In three games against the Pirates in that May series, Fielder went 5-for-13 with three RBIs.
"I don't play for their team," he said. "They should boo me."
Santiago seeing steady improvement this season
PITTSBURGH -- Manager Jim Leyland said before Saturday's game that Ramon Santiago has stabilized second base to some degree.Santiago, whose average has risen with each month of 2012, has gone 14-for-49 with two homers, a double and 10 RBIs over his last 16 games. "Santi's doing a good job for us, no question about it -- offensively and defensively," Leyland said. "He's made some real big plays in the last week or so." Leyland acknowledged that it's possible Santiago's slow start could be blamed on the infielder's decision not to play in the Dominican Winter League. "I don't know that to be a fact for sure, but possibly," Leyland said. "It helps keep some guys sharp." With Santiago in the lineup against the Pirates on Saturday, Ryan Raburn will be forced to watch another game from the bench. In 16 June at-bats, Raburn has five hits and one RBI. Leyland said that Raburn will start Sunday's series finale. "I actually think Raburn is swinging pretty good right now," Leyland said. "He hit three balls on the button the other day. If he gets hot, obviously, the more he'll play."
Since 2006 the Tigers are 80-44 in Interleague Play. Their .645 winning percentage ties them with the Angels for the second-best mark across baseball in that stretch. Only Boston's .661 winning percentage is higher. Entering Saturday's game, Austin Jackson's .406 on-base percentage is second among American League leadoff hitters. His .317 batting average ranks third, and his .536 slugging percentage ranks fourth. The Tigers have agreed to terms with right-hander Drew Harrison, a 23rd-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Detroit has now agreed to terms with 27 selections from this year's Draft.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.