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10/26/06 6:59 PM ET

Jim Leyland pregame interview

Detroit manager keeping same lineup as last night's rainout

The last time you guys had a rain delay, you went on to beat the Yankees three straight games. Do you think about that stuff? Do you talk about it in the clubhouse?

JIM LEYLAND: No, because I think it's quite a bit different, to be honest with you. That situation with the Yankees, we were playing all the time. And the situation now we've only played about three games in the last ten days. So it's totally different. We were off a week prior to the series, played two games, get a day off, play one game and now we've had another day off. We've been too idle to really compare the situation. Obviously I hope the results are the same, but I think it's two different situations.

Jim, in the playoffs do you think, compared to the regular season, they should be more careful starting the games so you don't have a delay and both teams lose a starter?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think you go along with the program, whatever the people in charge, whatever decisions they make, you go along with those, you honor them and respect them. I certainly respect the decision made last night. There's no question it was the right decision. I think everybody, particularly the Commissioner, did everything in his power to try to give the people a game, if he could. But it got to the point where it just wasn't feasible, it wasn't going to work. You don't want to keep them here forever, but yet you want to exercise every option to get it in, if you can. But the situation last night, it just wasn't going to happen.

Jim, both starting pitchers tonight, different styles, Bonderman is more the power pitcher. Do you have an opinion on how the layoff would hurt or help those guys, with the emphasis being on your guy?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, obviously Bonderman is off awhile and Jeff's off a little bit now. I don't think you ever know. Like I said with Robertson the other night, I didn't know what to expect. I thought he did very well. Actually I thought his command was pretty good, he threw the ball well. You just never know for sure what you're going to get. And you never know for sure if the layoff helped, hurt, what. We're going to play Game 4 tonight and we'll see how this turns out.

Taking you back to September, what kind of a chance did Mike Maroth have to make the team? Could he have pitched well in September and made the postseason roster? What was the situation and how do you feel about him?

JIM LEYLAND: I like Mike Maroth a lot, and Mike had thrown batting practice. He had thrown simulated games. He went out and pitched a couple of times and was actually going to be given the ball against the Yankees in a Yankee series, not obviously in the playoffs and he just didn't feel he was capable of doing it. So we pretty much decided we needed to shut him down. He wouldn't have time to get back into shape that he needed to get back in to probably compete in the postseason, for sure. So it was kind of a do what you can do the rest of the season, throw on the sides, some simulated games, and be ready for next year.

Todd Jones is very self deprecating about himself, even though he saved over 250 games. Could you discuss his pitching and his personality.

JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's one of the good characters in the game. He's got a personality. He's got a sense of humor. He's also very good with what he does. A lot of people, I shouldn't say a lot of people, I think some people probably wondered what we were doing when we signed him last year, but I can clear that up. I've tried to clear it up in the past. The main reason we signed Todd Jones last year, is because Todd Jones walked fewer people than any other closer in baseball last year. And to me it's a good feeling for a manager, if you get beat in most cases it's going to be because they got a base hit, double or home run. We got in trouble the other night because we walked the first two hitters before the botched double play. It wasn't the botched double play, it was the two walks why we got in trouble. That's why I wanted Todd Jones.

What did you learn about how important Polanco was to your team when he was out? And how important is it for him to get going?

JIM LEYLAND: He's a big part of our offense because he's probably the most usable player we have in our offense. By that I mean -- I shouldn't say that, probably the most versatile. He can hit and run, he can bunt, he can do a lot of things, so we missed him. But we're always cautious in Detroit, particularly from what's gone on the past few years, not to make any excuses. Nobody really cares about it, the Yankees were without several players, the Cardinals were without several players. Was he a big part of it and did it hurt us a lot? Yes. Do we need to get him going? Yes, we do. That would obviously be a big help. We're talking about a guy a week ago that was MVP of the American League Championship Series.

We don't know what's going to happen tonight, because of the rainout yesterday, putting a game on Friday, are you still set with your starting rotation or might you move guys up, back, simply Kenny Rogers depending what happens tonight?

JIM LEYLAND: My rotation will stay the same.

Baseball is such a game of rhythm. You play every day basically for the entire season. Like you said, this will only be the fourth game in 12 days, how is that affecting you guys?

JIM LEYLAND: We're bored to be honest with you (laughter). But once again, I don't know. Do I think we were a little rusty when we came out, particularly the first night? Yeah, we were. You always have to be careful, because it could have been mid-season, the way Chris Carpenter pitched the other night, we weren't going to do much with him. I'm certainly not going to take anything away from the Cardinal pitching. They've done a fantastic job. Are we a little rusty? We probably are. At the same time, this is not a time for excuses. This is a time to do the best you can with the situation at hand and that's what we're going to try to do.

The expression, dance with the one that brung you, you didn't change players, you just juggled the lineup. Can I ask, I know it's not rest, because you played so few games, had this been July and a couple of guys were struggling offensively, might you have taken a different approach and sat a couple of guys down?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, if you look at our bench, it's not a real deep bench, obviously. There's not a lot of household names sitting over there. So I don't think it would make much sense -- I figure, no pun intended, I think it would be a cardinal sin to take someone like Polanco or Granderson out of the lineup. These are our guys, they got us here. We need to win it or lose it with those guys, and that's what I want to do, and that's what I should do. Tony had replaced Encarnacion with Wilson, but you're talking about another veteran player, and a very good player. I'm not complaining about this, but obviously if you look at our bench, it's not a real deep bench with a lot of experience. So I don't think that would make absolutely any sense at all. The one case you may have is if Pudge was banged up enough, certainly Vance Wilson is a very capable player, that could be one possibility, but other than that I'm not going to take Granderson or Polanco out of our lineup right now. I just don't think that makes any sense at all.

Same lineup that you penciled out yesterday?

JIM LEYLAND: That's correct, yes.

Have you seen a difference in Polanco's at-bats and his approach and also a difference in the way he's getting pitched to this in series that he wasn't in the last couple of series?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think, as I said before, I think being that he's a former member of the Cardinals, they probably have a little better idea. And that doesn't always make any difference, either. I think the key is they have people that are capable of making pitches. And anytime you have people that are capable of making pitches, they can make it tough on a lot of hitters. If you have somebody like a Carpenter, that not only has a feel of how to pitch to a particular hitter, but can also execute it, that's the big difference. We all have reports. We have reports on their guys, they have reports on our guys, but the key to this business is can you execute. Can you make that pitch. If you leave it out over the plate, it gets whacked. If you throw it where you want to normally, somebody makes an out. I think it's a combination of those things, that the Cardinals are, like the guy we're facing tonight, they're very good at being able to put the ball where they want to put it. They're pretty good at being able to pitch to some weaknesses, and setting guys up maybe better than some of other teams.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.