07/02/2011 2:15 PM
COTUIT, Mass—In what was a bit of a surprise move, Jordan Leyland (UC Irvine), the big first baseman and last year’s championship MVP, returned to the Cotuit Kettleers to play for the 2011 season.
“I wasn’t sure he was coming until about 48 hours (before he arrived),” said Cotuit skipper Mike Roberts.
Leyland, who batted .264 throughout the 2010 season, got hot in the series and batted .462 during the post-season. Between his ability to drive in runs and his quiet leadership qualities as a returning player, Leyland’s arrival comes at a time when the Kettleers—5-12-1—could most use it.
“I’m hoping that he brings some clutch hitting for us,” said Roberts. “If you look at this team, one of our struggles has been, we haven’t had any trouble getting people on base, but we’ve had trouble getting them in.”
“I think it would it be great if all of a sudden Jordan would come in and get hot and drive in a few RBI for us,” Roberts continued. “That would really help us out. But there’s no pressure on him, like I told the guys, there’s no pressure on any of them. This is a league that they ought to have a great time; they ought to enjoy every day that they play here.”
That attitude factored into Leyland’s decision to return.
“That was the best experience and the most fun I’ve had, last summer,” said Leyland, who left with a coveted championship ring. This summer, he plans to work on the “mental side, mentally coming out and not putting on so much pressure. I’m going to try not to compete with what I did last season. Just come out and have fun.”
His main goal is to work on his plate appearances. He hopes that Roberts, who greatly influenced his success last year, can continue to help him improve his swing and “get more consistent, get that swing at its peak.”
“Mike Roberts, I had an amazing summer last summer with him,” said Leyland. “He helped me a lot with my success at the plate, and I hope to get a lot better this summer.”
“We’re glad to have him back because we need his leadership,” said Roberts of his first baseman/DH. “I do know that he will help us in some role without a doubt, whether it be the physical aspect or the presence of a veteran guy who has played in the league before.”