10/09/06 8:07 PM ET
Jim Leyland off-day interview
Tigers skipper discusses Game 1 of the ALCS
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND: I think everybody made too much of a big deal about that. I think it was just on that particular day at home, we didn't play the game the way it's supposed to be played, but I think people misunderstood. We didn't dog it; we did not hustle. But our mental approach was terrible.
We basically gave up after four innings and tried to hit cheap home runs. I wasn't satisfied with that. That's not the way to play the game. I let the team know after the game, but I don't think it had anything to do with the success that we had shortly after that.
With the success that Kenny has had here, was there much thought to him pitching?
JIM LEYLAND: That's a great question. I'll tell you why we did what we did. We felt like we considered that very strongly, but at the same time we felt like the effort against the Yankees was such a draining effort that we decided to give him the time, a little bit of extra time because of that draining effort against the Yankees, and that's why that decision was made.
And at the same time, if by chance the series would go seven games, he would be able to pitch Game Three and then Game Seven in Oakland. That's why we did it.
Could you just go over you kept the rotation the same way. Could you go over your reason for just the rest of not the Kenny decision, but pitching, and then deciding the whole way to keep it the same?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, there really wasn't much decision on that one. It's kind of Nate's turn, and Verlander followed, and of course Bondo just clinched it. Those are our four starters, and that kind of falls into place. That's just the way we're going to do it.
What is it about your managerial style that brings the most out of players?
JIM LEYLAND: I think, to be honest with you, I'm like every other manager. This is my 15th year managing in the major leagues, and when I've had good players I've done pretty good. And when I haven't had good players, I haven't been worth a [darn] (laughter).
When you look at the Oakland club, do you see some similarities with your team, strength of the pitching, top and the middle of the order?
JIM LEYLAND: The Oakland team is an extremely tough team because it's so balanced. They have a lot of excellent combinations, and most importantly, they play the game the way it's supposed to be played and they play it with an added amount of enthusiasm, and this is going to be a real tough match up.
You guys have been a pretty free swinging team throughout the year. Is that an approach that you've grown comfortable with? And is that something that can work in this series, too?
JIM LEYLAND: I wouldn't say I've grown comfortable with it because we're still trying to get guys to make some adjustments, even at this point. I think we did a little bit of that in the Yankees series a little bit better than we have. Hopefully we can continue that in this series. But when push comes to shove, we are what we are, and here we are. We're going to give this our best shot just like Oakland is.
I believe you managed Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall as rookies. Can you talk about what you thought of them then and what you think of the players they've become?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I can remember we brought Jason Kendall up. He hit .300 that first year. I can remember telling him that I was going to keep him out of the game in Chicago. It might have been the last day because I wanted to make sure he hit .300 because it was phenomenal that he came up and hit .300 that first year.
I know a lot about Jason Kendall. It's funny, I've got two coaches that he also played for. Nobody competes any better than Jason. He's been an outstanding, outstanding player for a long time. He's been kind of a friend from far away obviously in recent years, but I know Jason and his dad, and certainly I have the utmost respect.
And Mark Kotsay was and still is my wife's all time favorite. She thinks he's the cutest thing going (laughter). But he was on that team when we won the World Series. He was there for a while, and he was also on the team the next year.
You could just see that he was going to be a great player. The thing I like most about him I saw him about five minutes ago. He hasn't changed. He's a simple kid; does things right. I don't want to sound corny, but he's probably one of those guys that you'd like your daughter to marry.
Your team was on both ends of the psychological spectrum last week: The distress after the Kansas City series, then the exhilaration of the Yankee victory. How does that play into this week as far as getting ready for Oakland?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, at this point I don't think it's any different for either team. I think Oakland went through a lot of stress to get by the Angels, and they finally got by them and they stayed by them. They also had a thrilling series against Minnesota. So at this time, I don't think adrenaline or not enough adrenaline is going to affect anybody.
I think you get to this point, both teams will be able to reach down and find the energy that it takes, hopefully, to put on a good show for the fans from both cities and all over the country.
I know you've said before that you don't really believe in momentum, that each game is dependent upon the pitching effort that you get or each club gets. Is there something that you can take from beating the Yankees or what your team went through in that series and use it going into this series against Oakland?
JIM LEYLAND: No, not really. I've been preaching that for years, but nobody believes me because I keep answering it about momentum. Momentum is as good as your next day's pitcher. So that's history. The sweep for the A's against the Twins is history, and the great series win for us against the Yankees is history.
Now this is a new chapter, which is what the playoffs is all about. Not only the series, but each game is a new chapter.
But not necessarily momentum, but maybe just coming back in certain games when they were down or locking down or staying up on them, a sense of confidence offer something different maybe that they didn't know?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, once again, both teams, I think the further you go the more confidence you get. I think that's just nature.
But there's one common factor here: Somebody is going to win this series, and obviously somebody is going to lose it. Both teams are going to come out with confidence. Both teams have reason to be confident. Both teams have very good regular seasons. Both teams obviously had a very good playoff so far.
I don't think there's an advantage to either team along those lines, at least I hope not. Both teams are going to be ready to play.
Could you just talk for a moment about Nate pitching tomorrow night?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's an outstanding pitcher that his record, as I said, prior to the Yankees series, it should be better than what it was. He was kind of, at times, our hard luck guy. But I have total confidence in him. We'll see how this plays out.
I have total confidence in Nate Robertson. He's one of our guys. That's what you do when you get to these things, you go with your guys. Like I said, I'll say the same thing I said in New York: You don't all of a sudden get in the championship series and pull Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson out of your back pocket. It doesn't work that way.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.