10/07/06 1:44 PM ET
Jim Leyland pregame interview
Tigers manager discusses upcoming Game 4
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND: We're not going to do anything different than we've done. We're not going to do anything different. I mean, the key today is going to be [Jeremy] Bonderman and [Jaret] Wright, just like it was [Kenny] Rogers and [Randy] Johnson.
We're not going to do anything different. We're going to see how the game develops, and obviously, we're going to do the same thing the Yankees are going to do. They are going to do everything they can to win it, and we're going to do everything we can to win it.
Could you talk about the availability of some of your guys in the bullpen?
JIM LEYLAND: They are all available. I would be, obviously, a little bit careful with [Joel] Zumaya, but, fortunately, this is one of the few little periods of time the last couple of days where he really hasn't thrown very many pitches.
Usually, his outings in some stretches have been a lot of pitches in one outing. But it's worked out where he hasn't really thrown that many. If it meant getting one right-handed hitter out in a crucial spot, I could use him, but I would prefer to stay away from him today if I could.
You said if you lost the second game in New York, even the fans in Detroit might not have had a total confidence in your team, they might have been a little bit doubtful. So what was it like to be in the ballpark last night and see the fans and just have this first playoff game in this generation?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, that was why that was such a rewarding game for us, because we broke their heart a weekend ago when we didn't clinch the division.
And, you know, being the first playoff game here in so many years, to win it, that was obviously one of the most enjoyable games I've been involved in for that reason.
There's always a reason to look at things differently. I have to talk to the players. We have to be careful. We can't be thinking about a celebration or thinking about winning it for the fans or winning at home.
We've got to go play the game, and we have to keep that concentration level to where it needs to be to give the best shot at it.
Can you talk about Bonderman and what you hope to get out of him today and what you've seen from him over the past couple of weeks?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, obviously, a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. He's one of our horses. He's one of our four starters, obviously. This is an opportunity for him to step up big. I don't know how it's going to play out. I mean, he's facing a predominately left-handed-hitting lineup, which is without question, a great lineup.
So, you know, we'll just have to get a feel for how he handles it.
The way your guys have pitched so far, do you think their effectiveness is game planning, execution or a combination -- or what would you say?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think we've pitched very well for the most part. I'm not one of those guys that complains every time somebody hits a home run. I'm not one of those people that says, "Oh, he made a bad pitch."
Because if you look at the course of a ballgame, there's a lot of pitches that are thrown right down the middle of the plate that are popped up or grounded out.
Overall, we've done a pretty good job. I'm concerned today because I think that I know; I don't think, I know, that the Yankees will be right back in their mode of patience.
Last night, for about six outs late in the game, they were very -- it was very uncharacteristic of the Yankees to expand the zone a little bit. It's very rare that you see the Yankee hitters ever get frustrated, and I haven't seen that in this series at all until maybe a couple outs last night. But that's not going to happen today.
You know, everybody talks about them being great hitters, and there's no question, and one of the reasons they are is they are very patient. They are the most patient team we pitch against. You know, that's why they are so good. I mean, they are very talented obviously, but they are also very smart and they all have a great approach.
Derek Jeter in Game 1, his approach was he probably did his homework better than any player I've seen in the last several years on how he was going to approach Nate Robertson, and he burnt us.
You and all of the members of your team said before the series started that you were not going to let the way the season ended affect how you came into the series. I don't know how many of us actually believed it until we saw the last two days. What do you think is the biggest difference separating that from what's happened the last couple of days?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know how we're going to react. I don't know if we're going to get too excited. We went through one stretch and I really think, like I said, I'll always take talent, and I still believe in that.
But I think that, you know, there are some of these guys on that team that lost 119 games. So I think once we clinched a playoff spot that there was such a sigh of relief, a letdown. We just didn't handle finishing this thing off. That's my concern today, too anxious to do it, too anxious to celebrate, too anxious to make the man fans happy.
That's a major concern. This is a learning process for us. The Yankees go through this basically every year, and most of my guys have not been through this.
So I'm kind of contradicting myself because I said I believe in talent, and I do believe that. But at the same time, like I said, it's a growing process for us to learn how to handle these things, and I hope that we can grow up in a hurry today, because we're going to need to. We can't get too carried away with all this stuff.
With a 4:30 starting time today, do you think that shadows are going to be an issue in the early innings?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't really think so. I hope not. I mean, we take batting practice at that time a lot, obviously for our 7:05 games. Obviously, we're not seeing a pitcher like Jaret Wright.
But the best part is it's the same shadows for both teams and that really worked to our advantage the other day at Yankee Stadium. There's no question about that. I can remember watching games years ago when Goose Gossage would come in in situations like that. He was unhittable, he was tough anyway, and in those conditions, it made him extra special tough.
Were you up late thinking of different scenarios, or did you manage to sleep easily?
JIM LEYLAND: I didn't sleep well last night. My family is here, and I kept closing my eyes and all I could see was Abreu and Giambi and Jeter, and I mean that sincerely.
The toughest part about that, it was such an enjoyable win for me, but I didn't get to enjoy it for long. I got home early and I was laying in bed with my wife, and my son was there, and we're talking and I was saying, "We have to face that lineup again in about 20 hours. It's never-ending."
I mean, I guess this sounds terrible, but one way or the other, in the next two days, it's going to be over. And I'll be glad not to have to look at [Derek] Jeter and [Bobby] Abreu and Johnny Damon and [Jason] Giambi, and I love [Gary] Sheffield, he's my buddy. But I'll be glad I don't have to look at them until next spring and that's a compliment. I mean, you can have nightmares. I was up at four o'clock eating M&Ms. (Laughter).
JIM LEYLAND: Peanut ones. (Laughter)
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.