10/25/06 6:34 PM ET
Jim Leyland pregame interview
Tigers manager juggles the lineup for Game 4
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND:He hasn't been the same ever since then, he'll tell you that. He became a great friend of mine, gave me an opportunity, as he has a lot of other people. He's probably the suit-and-tie ambassador to baseball, like Tommy Lasorda was, a uniform guy.
Lineup for tonight and were there
any changes? Can you discuss them, please.
JIM LEYLAND:Yeah, I did change the lineup a little bit, Granderson is still going to lead off. Monroe is going to hit second, Guillen moved up to third, Ordonez fourth, Casey fifth, Pudge sixth, Polanco seventh and Inge eighth.
Can juggling a lineup get things
started or is that superficial?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, to be honest with you right now, you want to be careful how you say this, because you don't want to criticize anybody, and I'm not criticizing anybody, but right now in the lineup we have three guys that are 0-for-34 in combination. They're hitting in every third spot; there's only nine spots. So basically the key is to get them going. And I think every once in a while you post the lineup and it looks different and everybody kind of looks back and takes it in and once in a while you hope just something like that maybe shakes things up. But to the credit of the Cardinal pitching, I think it's what's caused us a tough time so far. I don't know, I think they're hitting . 190 something and we're hitting .180 or something in the series. Pitching has pretty much dominated the series. And we made a couple of errors in situations and we're down two games to one. But it's two games to one. I mean, if we're fortunate enough to win tonight and all of a sudden it's 2 and 2 and you're feeling pretty good. The series goes on and on.
Just looking ahead to another
possible game against Anthony Reyes,
guessing you guys didn't know that much
about him before, how much does it help to
have faced him and what would you change in
JIM LEYLAND:I really don't know what they're going to do with their rotation, obviously. I don't worry about that. We take that as it comes. Obviously if we see Anthony Reyes again, we would have a little bit better idea how to approach him. He pitched so well, and I've always felt like when you've never seen a pitcher before, the pitcher always has the advantage, obviously. So we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it.
Jim, you alluded to the three guys
that have taken the 0-for so far. Was there any
serious consideration or any considering at all
to maybe even letting them sit for a day and
letting them think about things?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, that's a very good question. I think that to me I think when you've got a player with the history and career of Pudge Rodriguez, that if he's healthy and I'm not totally sure he's going to be a hundred percent tonight, so that's the one that may not be etched in stone, but I think you play him. Like I said in a couple of the other series, it's not like you're pull into your back pocket and you pull out Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale out. This is the team that's taken us to the World Series and these are the players that are either going to win the World Series or are not going to win it, but there's no magic formula now. But the only question that would involve Pudge and Vance would be if Pudge's nagging injuries are enough that wouldn't allow him to perform at pretty much full strength, then you may consider that. And I am considering that. I'm going to go back and talk to him, but I'm not really sure at this time.
Can you talk about Mike Maroth,
what we meant to this team before he got hurt,
and considering where he came from with the
Tigers, what you think of him being along for
the ride and how that is for him to deal with.
JIM LEYLAND:Well, that's one of those sad situations, because Mike was pitching very well for us and he made the decision to get some bone chips taken out, and so obviously you accept what it is from there on in. He's a part of our plans, obviously. But at this time he's not active because he just didn't get enough pitching in to be activated for the series, obviously. But we like him very much and he was pitching very well for us.
I was wondering if you could
address whether the weather will have any
bearing on your starting pitching and whether
you might be more willing to stretch out a
reliever with the forecast the way it is?
JIM LEYLAND:I think we might as well all be prepared for some tough, ugly conditions tonight. So far I've been told that we are definitely going to play and we are probably going to play through some real tough conditions because, from what I understand the forecast for the next two days is probably worse. So as I speak to you right now, I'm fully expecting to play tonight. The only thing that you ever worry about to me is that there's not confusion before the start of the game so that your starter doesn't warm up and have to sit down for a half hour while it rains. That's the thing that both managers worry about. If you have long delays, you just use your judgment. I think we have the best bullpen in baseball this year. They have a very good bullpen. So I'm sure Tony and I will make the same adjustments, whatever we feel we need to do, we'll do it.
You mentioned earlier the lack of
offense on both sides. Are you looking for
ways to try to get things moving, run more, do
more things that you might not do otherwise?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, once again I think Tony and I are pretty similar. We both like to push a little bit. Obviously you push a little less in the American League. He's a master at it, but to be honest with you, neither side has really had a lot of opportunities. We've had absolutely no opportunities to do that. And I think you also have to be careful with that. You can't say I finally got someone on, I'm going to do something right away. You have to be careful with that, too. Under normal conditions, if we were getting some people on and maybe moving some runners or bunt or hit and run or stealing bases, the same things they do, but when you get two hits, three hits, you don't have many chances to do anything. If Sean Casey gets a hit, you know, (laughter), his steal sign is if I jump in the air and never come down, he goes.
I know any catcher is going to be
kind up at this time during the year, but you
mentioned nagging injuries with Pudge. Could
you describe which are the ones that concern
you the most, what's ailing him?
JIM LEYLAND:I'm not going to talk about the one injury (laughter). I think you all saw that, I'm not going to talk about that one. He has a little problem with his hip and his back's been bothering him. It's just little nagging things that happen to a lot of players this time of year. I think if you're 7-for-12 they're easier to live through. If you're 0-for-12, they hurt a little more. I don't mean that sarcastically, that's just the way it is. He's fighting and trying to do too much. He's down on himself. And we're going to try to perk him up tonight to get him to relax and hopefully have a good performance. By no means was I being sarcastic about it. That's the way it is. It's easier to come to the clubhouse when you're hitting .320 than it is when you're hitting .220, and that's the way it is for all players.
With Justin Verlander's diminished
velocity the last start, has he shown
improvement in his bullpen?
JIM LEYLAND:I don't go to the bullpen, I let Chuck handle that. But I think Justin will be fine. I would expect he'll be fine for tomorrow, and it's like I said, he's one of our four starters, and I think basically other than Justin's performance, we've pitched pretty well. We've made a couple of mistakes. We had the errant throw last night, but overall I don't think we've pitched too bad. The way we've hit, we're probably fortunate we won a game so far.
What's your take on the World
Series being played maybe at a warm weather
JIM LEYLAND:I would never go for that. I love this. I don't care how miserable it is. I think it would be a crying shame to take something like this away from the fans of St. Louis or the fans of Detroit. I would never go for that at all. I think what you're looking at now is from years past, obviously the schedule, there's more games during the regular season than there was years ago, and now you're talking about two tiers of playoffs before the World Series, and you expect there's a good possibility that you could run into this kind of weather. I was cold last night but I bet I was a lot colder than Tony. I bet he was pretty warm, I was pretty cold. If we win tonight I'll be pretty warm, and I bet he'll be cold as hell.
When you don't have history to look
on when Joel Zumaya has the eighth inning he
does, he talked about he was not good last
night. The idea that you don't have a resume to
fall back on. You as a manager, do you have a
sense back of what a guy's bounce-back ability
might be, when you're with him during the
course of the season, give him the ball, find out
what he's going to do, what he's thinking
before he does something?
JIM LEYLAND:He'll be fine tonight. There will be no problem with him tonight. That's why I obviously got him out, that's why I got Rodney out, I was hoping they could have quick innings. Joel probably made a young mistake, but I don't have any problem with that. I really believe we could have hit for two more hours last night, if Carpenter was pitching we weren't going to score. I don't have any problem with that. He can bounce back, he'll be fine. I think one of his problems last night, you know, everybody talks about the errant throw, but the biggest key to that I think is the fact that we walked two guys prior to Albert coming up. We got the double play ball from Albert, but really the killer in that I think was the two walks. And I won't attribute any of our failure to hit so far to the layoff, but I will defend Joel Zumaya. He's been out a little while because of the injury he had and he was rusty. But he's one of the best we've got, and he'll be in there.
Going back to Polanco, No. 1, do
you see anything different in these World
Series games? Is he different than what he
was in the ALCS or is it just going pitching?
No. 2, when you say that you want to get him
going and you move him down in the order,
psychologically what does that do for him?
How does that help?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, I think No. 1, we're talking about a guy who was the MVP of the American League Championship Series just a few days ago. I think that this is his former team. He's got a little impatient, he swung at some bad pitches. They probably have a little better feel how to pitch him than maybe some of the other teams did, being that he was one of their players. And I don't worry about anybody on my team as far as where they're hitting or complaining about or psychologically what they will do to them. I can honestly say that -- they may something to you guys, but to me they've been a team all year and they've done whatever I've asked them to do. This is not a punishment, I'm hoping this is something that gets him going. I'm not trying to hide him in the lineup. This guy is probably, Guillen and him are probably our most pure hitters, and Ordonez. So it's a matter of you try to change things up and maybe a little bit of a different look and it might work. But there's no rocket scientist stuff here, it's all just kind of a feel for it. So we're hoping that maybe this will get us going a little bit.
A lot was made last night or enough
was made in the Cardinals clubhouse about
good at-bats and having good at-bats, and you
mentioned the walks before, for your team. Is
that an offshoot of a long layoff or are you
happy with the at-bats that your team has given
you in the three games so far?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, I'm not happy with our results, obviously. But I mean, there's one guy sitting here for sure you're not going to hear any excuses from, and hopefully there won't be anybody in a Tiger uniform making excuses. Do I think the layoff is part of it? I guess it could be. But I think mostly the Cardinals have pitched real good, and I think that we just haven't had the kind of at-bats we need to have. But I think the layoff for Zumaya had some effect. But there's no excuses and the series is only two games to one. People have a tendency to go with the flow each day, well, it's over -- somebody was going to be 2-1 after last night. Obviously I wish it would have been us. It wasn't. So the point of no return is when you lose four, when somebody else wins four. That's when it's over. But when it's 2-1, it's hardly a time to panic. We're certainly not going to panic. We're going to play as hard as we can. We're going to hopefully try to even it up tonight and you guys will all be writing, well, maybe the Tigers have an edge again (laughter.)
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