Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the team might have "made a mistake" when it acquired infielder Neifi Perez from the Chicago Cubs in August, telling WDFN-AM (1130) on Thursday that Perez "played terrible" in Detroit.
Reached later Thursday by the Free Press, Leyland said, "We're not ripping Neifi. He was a hell of a player, and we thought we were getting a similar player to that, but Neifi simply did not perform well. 'Terrible' is an exaggeration.
"We're going to look at this in spring training. If he's capable of performing, he'll be on the team. If not, obviously we made a mistake. The fact of the matter is that he did not play well in Detroit. I stand behind that. That's just a fact."
Perez, 33, acquired after an injury to starting second baseman Placido Polanco, hit .200 with no home runs and five RBIs in 21 regular-season games. The Tigers are obligated to pay Perez's $2.5-million salary this year, even if he is released.
The Tigers likely will carry two utility infielders this year. Leyland said Perez would "have to play his way off the team," indicating Perez has a tentative hold on a 25-man roster spot.
"If Neifi Perez can play like he's capable," Leyland said, "he can be a key player for us, because he can play shortstop ... when (Carlos) Guillen needs days off, and second for Poli when he needs days off. He can play better than he showed.
"I recommended that we trade for him. I take responsibility. I don't want people to get the wrong impression. I like Neifi Perez, but he did not perform well. It's that simple."http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti ... 90437/1050