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Tigers' Dombrowski engineered turnabout



Published: Tue, October 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The general manager made some clever moves in rebuilding the Tigers.

DETROIT (AP) -- The man who built these turnaround Tigers still has work to do before the World Series.

Like getting his voice back.

General manager Dave Dombrowski, 50, hollered himself hoarse after Magglio Ordonez homered to clinch the AL pennant on Saturday, throwing his hands in the air and hugging everyone around him. It was a rare display for the reserved, buttoned-down executive.

"When you're in charge, you often have to keep your emotions inside," Dombrowski said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"People don't see the emotional side of me often, but there are times you just let it go -- like when you win the pennant in dramatic fashion at home like we did," he said. "Now, it's time to get composed again and hopefully we can react like again because there's still another notch to go."

Homer capped a sweep

Ordonez's ninth-inning homer finished a sweep of Oakland in the AL championship series. It gave Detroit a whole week to calm down and rest up for the World Series, starting Saturday night at Comerica Park against either St. Louis or the New York Mets.

The Tigers will play for their first championship since 1984 just three years after losing an AL-record 119 games and being baseball's losingest team the past 13 years.

They could not have done it without owner Mike Ilitch's money and Dombrowski's moves.

Ilitch was so embarrassed by the 2003 season that he desperately wanted to sign free agents at whatever costs were necessary.

The owner of the Tigers since 1992 knew he would have to overpay to lure some stars to Detroit, but some such as Miguel Tejada, wouldn't even take the Tigers seriously when they called.

All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez did, signing a 40 million, four-year deal the winter after the long-suffering franchise hit an all-time low.

Well-paid outfielder

Ordonez, an All-Star outfielder coming off an injury-shortened season, followed in 2005 with a 75 million, five-year contract that could be worth as much as 105 million over seven seasons.

Baseball analysts and fans laughed at the Tigers for giving such lucrative offers to both players, but they're not anymore.

"Dave's credit needs to be laid at Mr. Ilitch's feet for spending the money to get Pudge and Maggs," said 38-year-old closer Todd Jones, who signed last winter along with 41-year-old starter Kenny Rogers. "That gave the other guys reasons to come. If you're an older player and you don't have a chance to win, there's no chance coming.

"But Dave gets credit for getting the right guys."

Detroit's opening-day payroll was 82.3 million -- putting it in the middle of the pack in the majors -- and it grew by making trades during the season for first baseman Sean Casey and Neifi Perez.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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