As Tigers rookie right-hander Bruce Rondon got dry-docked a few days Monday for mechanical repair, manager Jim Leyland made one thing clear: When it comes to managing with a ninth-inning lead, he'd rather be Sparky Anderson of 1984 than Whitey Herzog of 1985.

Herzog's Cardinals won 101 games in '85 -- but without a full-time closer. Anderson's Tigers won 104 games in '84 with Willie Hernandez as the closer, the Cy Young winner and the MVP.

But Leyland talked openly Monday about being like Herzog in '85. As he reiterated simply, "We don't have a closer."

He never gave that job to Rondon, the rookie who has wobbled in his last two outings and will now miss his next exhibition assignment so he can work on mechanics to improve his control.

Leyland essentially ruled out a return for last year's closer, the unsigned Jose Valverde.

He downplayed the chances of a trade for a closer -- such as that one that brought Hernandez from the Phillies to the Tigers 10 days before the start of the '84 season.

Years later, Anderson said, "It was very easy to manage in 1984. I picked up the phone, called the bullpen and said, 'Get Willie up.' "

After that '84 season, All-Star closer Bruce Sutter left the Cardinals as a free agent. The St. Louis front office didn't give Herzog a new full-time closer for '85. So he employed a series of relievers in the save situations, and the Cardinals were even better at guarding ninth-inning leads that season than they were with Sutter.