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Leyland defends “benching” of Ordonez

Following Magglio Ordonez’s “indefinite” benching on Thursday, it didn’t take long for his agent Scott Boras to chime in, insinuating that the move had more to do with his $18 million option for 2010 than his poor start:

“Great major league players have periods where they don’t perform well. It’s befuddling to me, why they’ve done this. The Tigers are treating Magglio Ordonez differently than they have in the past. Coming off three consecutive years when he played really well for them ... this is unheard of.”

It would be one thing if Ordonez was performing somewhat close to the same level of the past three seasons, but he’s batting an anemic .272/.347/.343 with two homers and 22 RBI through his first 216 at-bats. He’s currently slugging at a lower rate than Coco Crisp and teammate Placido Polanco. Once a hero of the 2006 ALCS, the 35-year-old hasn’t gone deep in 38 games.

Jim Leyland publicly defended the move on Saturday, responding to Boras by saying:

“This is about no other issue. This is about Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so he can contribute the way he feels good about himself, because, by his own admission, he’s embarrassed.”

“I’m very respectful of Scott Boras, but I’m not going to listen to his (nonsense). Scott Boras might be better off if he lets Magglio and myself handle this instead of him.”

Ordonez’s struggles are a convenient excuse to bench him, no doubt, but the best solution for all involved may just be going the “the Gary Sheffield route” by cutting him loose.

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