The Detroit Tigers continue to underachieve in 2012 and it’s time for manager Jim Leyland to mix things up in the clubhouse like Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays

While it’s true that the Tigers have looked better against the Minnesota Twins recently, the team is not out of the woods yet. After all, they’ve only won back-to-back games once since mid-April. Still floating around .500 heading into June, the team needs to change their routine in order to have some fun heading into the summer months. 

Baseball is a very superstitious game as clubs stick with what they know even when things are going bad. Tigers’ fans know Leyland is adamant about how he runs the ship in Detroit. He typically gets short with the media, can’t stand whiny fans and is loyal to his lineup. 

Leyland himself knows his lineup with either play themselves into contention or play him out of town. One admirable thing about the Tigers skipper is that he sticks to his guns, regardless of what his pundits think.

While Leyland’s attitude and philosophy is known to all, it’s time to become open to new ideas. He should study Maddon of the Rays and how he keeps his clubhouse loose. It may not be Leyland’s “style,” but it’s worth a shot. 

Maddon is a master at keeping a smile on his players’ faces no matter how bad things are going. He’s been known to have themed road trips, which spawns camaraderie and is just enough to take his guys’ minds off baseball a bit.

Recently, Maddon did the unthinkable when he placed slugger Carlos Pena in the leadoff role when he was struggling. Pena had never hit leadoff before, but he hit a homer that day. While Pena won’t remain as the Rays leadoff hitter, Maddon’s move brought a fresh breath of air to the clubhouse and sparked Pena. 

Before the trip to Minnesota, fans didn’t see many smiles in the Tigers’ dugout in quite some time. While it’s nice to see, keeping a smile on their faces is the key to success. 

Not many people see what goes on behind closed doors when Leyland speaks to his team. There’s no doubt that his players respect him, but do they still believe in what he’s saying? In order to ensure continuity, Leyland must come out of character and surprise his men with some unexpected spontaneity. 

A sudden juggle in the lineup or good laugh with his men may just send the Tigers on the tear that fans have been waiting for all season. 

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