Notes: Leyland cites communication
Tigers manager places no blame on Yankees for planning
NEW YORK -- Even when Jim Leyland's not happy, sometimes he can't help but be funny.
"I've got to give Joe Torre credit," he quipped prior to Thursday's game. "This is the first time in my life that I was ever outmanaged on an off-day."
He wasn't accusing the Yankees of a conspiracy in Wednesday night's rainout decision, or Major League Baseball for giving New York any advantage. But as he pointed out, there was clearly a communication gap somewhere when he had his Tigers warming up on the field, preparing for a 10 p.m. ET start while the Yankees were inside.
Or, as Leyland put it, "Torre's home having a glass of wine with his wife, and I'm checking the bullpen to make sure [Justin] Verlander's getting ready."
The humor doesn't diminish his feelings about how everything was handled. Leyland said he was informed at 9:28 p.m. that Major League Baseball would try to start the game around 10 p.m., knowing that another line of storms would arrive sometime during the contest. He didn't know that plan was off until another MLB official suggested that he stop Verlander from warming up since it was going to rain again.
"I know that there was certainly an obvious mistake in the communication," Leyland said. "I want to emphasize that it's going to have no bearing on whether we win or lose the series. So there's no big controversy here, but it was handled very poorly. I mean, it's very strange when my pitcher is in the bullpen warming up and their pitcher is on the freeway going home."
Asked if hoping to restart the game was the right plan, Leyland didn't want to comment, though he made a point that there aren't rain-shortened postseason games.
"I'm not going to get into that," he said. "All I'm telling you is, I was upset, I had a right to be upset and I'm still upset about it, because it was not handled very well. It was embarrassing to me as a manager of the team, because I've got my players on the bench and my pitcher's getting ready to throw, and there's not a Yankee to be seen. So, obviously, they had better information than we did."
Even then, he couldn't help but laugh.
"I'm not trying to pick a fight with anybody," he said. "It's just a situation when you're dealing with Mother Nature, obviously there's some confusion. I get ticked off at the players sometimes. 'Well, are we starting on time?' Well, obviously not, it's a quarter to nine and we were supposed to start at 8:09. We're not starting on time, fellas.
"'Well, is it supposed to rain more?' Well, evidently. It's pouring buckets out there right now. So I'm usually tougher on my players than anybody else, because people -- to be honest with you -- ask stupid questions during rain situations."
Bottom line, Leyland said, "Nobody can help stuff like that. All you can do is make light of it and move on."
From a travel standpoint, of course, the Tigers had to move on last night, having checked out of the Grand Hyatt expecting to return to Detroit after Wednesday's game. They found rooms for the night at the Hilton, where Leyland found a much bigger room in which he could spend his few hours sleeping before coming back to the park.
"Last night," he said, "when we were only going to stay in this place for six hours, my room was big enough that the president could have had his State of the Union address, cheese, wine and everything."
Traffic control: Leyland was watching the Dodgers-Mets game in the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon when his longtime coach and current Dodgers third-base coach Rich Donnelly found himself in the spotlight.
An odd play in which Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca tagged out two runners at the plate reminded Leyland of an episode he had as a third-base coach for the White Sox when they were facing the Yankees.
"I laughed at the play with the Yankees," Leyland said, "but there was nothing funny over [Wednesday's play]."
Here's to Kickapoo: When Verlander finally did take the mound Thursday afternoon, he became the first Tigers rookie to start a postseason game since Ed "Kickapoo" Summers started Game 4 of the 1908 World Series. The 23-year-old right-hander lost that game as well as Game 1 in relief as the Cubs went on to their most recent World Series title.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.