10/18/06 12:35 AM ET
Notes: Tigers begin preparations
AL champs work out at Ford Field on Tuesday
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
With four days to kill before Game 1 of the Fall Classic, the Tigers took the field again Tuesday afternoon, though it was a different field than what they're used to. With a steady rain coming down around Comerica Park, the Tigers received permission from the NFL's Detroit Lions to head across the street and indoors to Ford Field for an afternoon workout. It's the first time they've used the facility since they worked out there a few years ago in January while players were in town for TigerFest and the winter caravan.
It wasn't exactly a simulated game, but it would do. Leyland had his players run and play catch, and he planned to set up temporary bases for pitchers to work on bunt plays to get them ready to field and bat in games without the designated hitter when the Series heads to a National League ballpark. From a motivational standpoint, Leyland planned to talk to his players Tuesday, and build on the message until their final pre-series workout on Friday. They'll work out again Wednesday before taking Thursday off.
From a preparation standpoint, there's twice as much work, since they don't know their opponent. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series by winning Tuesday night.
"The only disadvantage we have right now is we're kind of preparing for two teams," Leyland said. "That puts you at a little bit of a disadvantage. But the advantages, I think, outweigh the disadvantages. We can get some of our guys healthy. [Joel] Zumaya's going to be fine. It looks like [Sean] Casey's got a good shot at being fine. [Carlos] Guillen and Pudge [Rodriguez] and Magglio [Ordonez] and all the guys that are banged up a little bit should be healthy."
He does not buy much into the boredom factor.
"How you handle things depends on the way you go about it," he said. "If you want to make a case and say, 'I'm bored,' and 'We should be playing,' then you can put negative thoughts in there. If you accept things for what they are and go about your business, then you're fine."
The players seemed to have accepted it, using the off-time to rest up and get away. Brandon Inge and Craig Monroe were in the stands at Ford Field on Sunday when the Lions beat the Buffalo Bills. Ivan Rodriguez was at the Detroit Pistons preseason game Monday night. Others simply stayed home and relaxed.
"For me, it's good," Curtis Granderson said. "I get a chance to rest up a little bit, return a lot of phone calls, talk to a lot of people, stuff that I normally wouldn't get a chance to do because we'd be at the ballpark for the majority of the day. And I get a chance to prep again and look forward to it. It's almost like Christmas coming. You just wait another day for it to get here."
Inge spent time at home with his family. But as the NLCS played on, at least on Sunday, he found himself unable to turn away from the television.
"I have been watching them," Inge admitted. "And I'm not usually one that's going to go home from a baseball game to watch a baseball game. It's my time to spend with the family and relax and get your mind off baseball a little bit. I have found myself wanting to watch all these games, not just to watch, but to do a little scouting as well. We can get a little upper hand on each one of these teams right now by doing a little recon and watching these games."
Rotation not set: How the NLCS plays out between the Cardinals and Mets will affect how Leyland sets his rotation, but that's as far as he would publicly go into his pitching order. The only hint he'd reveal is that he'd have three of his starting pitchers work on their bunting, meaning the other starter will definitely not pitch in Games 3-5 at the NL park. The only pitching spot that's assured of that would be whoever starts Game 2 at Comerica Park, because that spot wouldn't come up again unless the series returned to Detroit for Game 6.
For what it's worth, Kenny Rogers is the Tigers' most adept hitter, going 1-for-7 at the plate this year and 9-for-63 for his career. Nate Robertson had an RBI single in six at-bats this year and is 1-for-14 lifetime. Justin Verlander had a popout and a sacrifice bunt in his only plate appearances this season. Jeremy Bonderman is still looking for first Major League hit or sacrifice, going 0-for-19 with 12 strikeouts.
"I haven't got a hit yet, so I've got to be [the worst hitter on the team]," Bonderman said.
Casey update: Casey told reporters Tuesday he feels confident his injured left calf will be ready to go by Saturday, but Leyland isn't yet certain.
"He's doing good," Leyland said. "Right now, if I had to predict, I would say that he'd be ready. He seems to feel really good about it. And I feel good about it, too, but maybe not quite as good as he does. We'll have to see. You might be dealing with cold weather and all that type of stuff, and that can have an effect."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.