Leyland steps down as Tigers manager

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Saying simply it was time, Jim Leyland has decided to step down as manager of the Detroit Tigers.

"It's time," Leyland said Monday at a news conference. "The fuel was starting to get low. It's time to turn it over to somebody else."

Leyland spent the past eight seasons with the Tigers, guiding the club to four playoff appearances and two American League pennants. Detroit reached the World Series in his first season of 2006, falling to the Cardinals, and also lost to the Giants in last year's Fall Classic.

The Tigers were 93-69 this past season and won the American League Central title for the third straight year, but lost to Boston in the American League Championship Series.

Leyland posted a mark of 700-597 during his eight-year tenure in Detroit.

"It's been a thrill," Leyland added. "We won quite a bit. I'm very grateful to be a small part of that."

Leyland said he made the decision that this would be his last season in early September and told only a few people, including his wife and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. It was kept quiet because Dombrowski and Leyland didn't want it to be a distraction as the Tigers played for the AL Central title.

Dombrowski said he told only Tigers owner Mike Ilitch after Leyland informed him on Sept. 7. Leyland eventually told his players after the Tigers were beaten by Boston on Saturday night.

"I didn't know how to take it when they clapped," Leyland quipped about the reaction from his players. "I spent the last 24 hours saying I wasn't going to get emotional. I had a lot of nice comments from my players."

Now 68 years old, Leyland said he is not completely retiring. He will take another undetermined position in the Tigers' organization.

"I'm not totally retiring today, I just won't be in the dugout anymore," he said. "I want to retire a Tiger."

Dombrowski said he wanted Leyland to return and indicated that the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

Leyland also managed the Pirates for 11 seasons, the Marlins for two years and the Rockies for one. He has a career record of 1,769-1,728 and was named Manager of the Year three times, but said the ALCS loss to Boston will live with him for a long time.

"This one really hurt," Leyland remarked. "I felt like we let one get away, that's what hurt more than anything else. With all due respect to the Boston Red Sox, they earned it, I truly believe the Detroit Tigers should be playing (in the World Series)."

Leyland led Pittsburgh to three straight NL East titles from 1990-92 and left after the 1996 season to become the skipper with the Marlins. He guided the Marlins to their first World Series title in 1997 and spent one more season in Florida before taking over in Colorado in 1999. After a six-year hiatus, the Tigers hired him in 2006.

The 700 wins Leyland compiled with Detroit are the third-most in Tigers history, behind only Sparky Anderson's 1,331 and Hughie Jennings' 1,131.

Leyland just completed his 50th season in professional baseball. He was a catcher in the Tigers' minor league system as a player and also managed in Detroit's organization.