Unlike La Russa, Leyland not interested in front-office role

Former Tigers manager returning as special assistant at Spring Training

Unlike La Russa, Leyland not interested in front-office role

DETROIT -- Jim Leyland followed Tony La Russa's path into managing in the Major Leagues. He will not be following La Russa's path into the front office.

For that matter, he's not thinking about managing again, either.

When Spring Training opens next month, Leyland will be in the same place he was last year, watching workouts from afar as a Tigers special assistant. He'll come in when Grapefruit League Play begins, and he'll travel a bit across Florida watching other teams.

And he's just fine doing that.

"I really enjoyed it," Leyland told MLB Network Radio on Thursday morning. "I'm 70 years old, and if I could've just gone at seven o'clock and managed the game and gone home at 10, I'd still be doing it, because I love the competition and I miss the guys. But the travel was getting to me, getting in at six, seven in the morning, playing that night. I'd had enough. It was time for somebody else.

"I'm really at peace with my decision. I really enjoy what I'm doing now. I still work with the Commissioner's Office on the replay thing and a couple other things, so I still dabble in it a little bit. I really enjoy it. I'll be there for the first day of Spring Training -- for the games, not for the workouts."

Leyland spent most of Spring Training last year in Lakeland, Fla., watching the Tigers, but often from a distance. He said he didn't want to be a distraction for his successor, Brad Ausmus. Instead, he was a source for advice when Ausmus asked, probably more often than he expected.

Leyland spent much of the summer traveling around the northern part of the Tigers' farm system, from Double-A Erie -- near his home in Pittsburgh -- to Triple-A Toledo to Class A West Michigan. But he also made a handful of stops in Detroit, once to be honored by the Tigers, other times for organizational meetings.

He still keeps in touch with La Russa, now the chief baseball officer for the D-backs. Leyland's not interested in joining him.

"I really don't think I'd be capable of that," he said. "My forte was to manage the team. I thought that's where I belonged. To run a front office and run the entire Minor League system, oversee everything, I just don't think [it would work]. Although Tony and I are the same age, and I've got a lot of energy, I just don't think that I'd want to take on something that big, although I've talked to [La Russa] a lot and he's really into it. He's really enjoying it, but he's finding out that it's a lot more time-consuming and there's a lot more to it than people think.

"As a manager, the general manager gives you the players and you're out there having fun. You don't realize all the rules ... and all these things that go on with that. I would not be interested in that."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.