10/23/2012 7:10 PM EST
Oct. 23 Jim Leyland and Justin Verlander workout day interview
Q. Jim, is there anything new you can tell us about the closer situation going into Game 1?
JIM LEYLAND: Not really, just going to play it by ear, see what happens. I don't really have any definite information on that yet. We'll just see how the game plays out, who's coming up. Like I always say, I hope we have that to worry about. If we do, we'll come up with somebody.
Q. Along those same lines, how did you feel about how Coke handled that situation in that Yankees series?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think he did fine, obviously. He did very, very well. I think we'd be putting the cart before the horse all of a sudden to say he's a definite full time closer. I'll leave it at that. He did a terrific job, no doubt about that.
Q. Justin, looking back at the All Star Game, you said after the game that you were trying to throw as hard as possible, it was for the fans and entertainment. Now that it means opening on the road instead of home, do you ever think about what would have happened if you had treated that like a normal game?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What do you mean? Yeah, I tried to throw the ball hard. I wasn't not trying to get people out. There's a difference. You know, when I'm throwing 100 in the 9th I'm trying to get people out, too, it just so happens I wanted to do it in the first and it didn't work out well. It wasn't for lack of effort.
Q. But you said normally you wouldn't try to throw that hard.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Normally I'm not just pitching one inning, two innings at the most. So it was a different opportunity for me. I treated it almost like I was coming out of the bullpen, knowing I could go one or two innings. It was just a different scenario altogether. Do I wish it would have worked out a little bit better and we'd be at home right now? Absolutely, but it didn't, and we're here.
Q. Jim, what did you see in these last three games that the Giants won? And overall your impression of that ballclub?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think what they've done speaks for itself. I don't look at the last series as much as I looked at the Cincinnati series. I actually thought that was probably more impressive than this last series, and that's not to take anything away from the Championship Series.
But I don't really know the Giants that well. I'm kind of getting a crash course on them. But to be honest with they when they were down 0 2 going into Cincinnati having to win three games, for me that was unbelievable. So nothing surprised me when they got to the Championship Series after I saw what they did in the divisional series, it didn't surprise me at all what they did in the Championship Series. Unbelievable, really.
Q. Justin, the ultimate series for any baseball players is to be in this World Series; you're the only two teams here. What does it mean to you to be in this series and to start Game 1?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, I had the opportunity to pitch in the World Series before. It was my rookie year, though, and everything was kind of a whirlwind, and I don't think I really appreciated the magnitude of how hard it is to get there.
You know, I think I had a rude awakening in the years after that, and I think it allows me to appreciate it all the more that I'm here now and getting the opportunity to start Game 1 again. Like I said, just being able to take it in a little bit more, having some experience under my belt and having been in situations like this allows me not to be so wide eyed and be a little calmer and take things in.
Q. Jim, you've been here before, obviously. What does it mean to you to lead a team in the series?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I don't think anybody ever understands the magnitude of being one of the final two. When you go into Spring Training there's 30 teams, and if somebody were to tell you at the beginning of Spring Training you'd be one of the final two standing, it's hard to do. It's very, very difficult to get here, there's no question about that. You know, we're excited about it. When you get to the World Series, it's a thrill of a lifetime. This is what we do for a living. We don't get here very often. Nobody does. So you just appreciate it and you go about your business trying to win it.
Q. Justin, players like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn played in the World Series very early in their career and they talked about how they began to worry about how they'd ever get another chance. Did that feeling start to set in for you at all, that thought?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Um, yes and no. I realized how lucky I was to get there in 2006 after a couple more seasons; especially after 2008, you know, I realized how tough it was, but I also knew at the same time that I had just had it was only my third year, and hopefully had many more years to go. If I had a lengthy career, obviously, I would have some more opportunities.
So I wasn't worried that I'd never get back, but I realized how difficult it was looking back at it.
Q. Jim, you've been doing this job for a long time and have accomplished a lot. What do you still enjoy about it? What do you enjoy most about being a big league manager and doing what you do?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I like the camaraderie; I like the competition. I think that's what motivates all athletes is competition. That's the thing you thrive on.
You know, it's a thrill to manage the best players in the world and manage against the best players in the world, and to think that you're a small part of that, I mean, that's a pretty big thrill for a guy.
You know, I'm going to take it all in. I have great respect for the opposing teams no matter when it is, during the regular season, playoffs, World Series. These guys are the best in the world, and I enjoy watching the other teams' players play from time to time to be honest with you. I don't like sometimes the results and what they do to you, but to see how good some of these guys are and the plays they make almost on a regular basis is really unbelievable. So it's very enjoyable, but it's your competitive nature. Like I said, to be one of the final two is pretty good.
So it's a great opportunity for both teams.
Q. Jim, wondering with such an asset that you have in Justin how much thought, if any, did you have to pitching him in 1, 4 and 7 and why you decided not to do that, with the winter to rest?
JIM LEYLAND: He told me he was pitching Game 1, so I said okay. (Laughter).
So I kind of just followed suit. But no, it worked out with the days off and everything. We think we have our pitching set up the way we want it. Some people have asked about should he pitch in the fourth game, but because of his little bit of setbacks recently, not too recently, but with the celebration and prior to that with a little tired arm, we decided this was the best way to go. I feel comfortable with all my pitchers. Obviously I feel real comfortable with the one to my left. But you know what, anybody that's here is going to have good pitchers. Giants got good pitchers, too. You don't get here unless you can pitch.
Q. Justin, when you hear people talk about all right, the Giants have to win 4 of 5 because Justin is starting, what do you think?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, this is the game of baseball. I mean, it's obviously a great compliment for people to say, but like I said, this is the game of baseball, anything can happen, and I don't think myself nor the Tigers take anything for granted no matter who's on the mound. I think we're more than confident, and deservedly so, in all four of our guys' starting games, and I think that not just myself but the other three guys have proven over the last couple series that they can do it, anybody can do it.
Q. You've managed a lot of big superstars in this game, from Barry Bonds to the guys on the Marlins to a lot of stars on this team. What do you think it is about you that you can relate to these guys at the very top of their profession the way you do?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, to be honest with you, I've found over my career that whether a guy is making $60,000 or $6 million or $16 million, if he was a good guy, he was a good guy. If he was a jerk, he was a jerk. I've got good guys. My superstars are good guys, and so are my other guys that aren't superstars. They're good guys.
But I've believed that all my life. The economics of it has nothing to do with it; the superstar status has nothing to do with it. If a guy is a good guy, he's a good guy. If he's a jerk, he's a jerk. Fortunately I don't have any jerks.
Q. When we were in Detroit last week Jack Morris talked about how he admired the way you've developed as a pitcher and he was the face of the team in the 80s and you've become the face of the pitching staff here. What did you take from your interactions with him, a guy that won a World Series for this franchise?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, I think it was last year, maybe earlier on this year, I can't quite remember, Jack and I had a sit down, and it wasn't like a mentor type situation, it was just a I like to pick the brains of baseball players and guys that I've admired, and obviously he's one of them. So any opportunity I have to speak with those individuals, I don't take that for granted. I enjoy doing that.
He came into the clubhouse in Minnesota, and I had the opportunity might have been in Detroit, and we had a few minutes and just kind of sat down and talked shop. It wasn't any mind blowing information or anything that you guys would want to hear, but it was just kind of sitting down and talking our craft.
Q. Justin, at a time when you were younger or maybe even before professional baseball, Barry Zito was on top of his game. Did you watch him at all or would you have taken anything from him?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: To be honest with you, the main thing I remember from Zito was his curveball. I think I was probably in college watching a game of his, and his curveball was just unbelievable, and he still has a good curveball. But that thing back when he was with Oakland was just unreal, and I hope not to see it. (Laughter).
Q. Justin, invariably when you get into situations like this people say you try to approach it like it was just another game. But there's an urgency about pitching in the World Series. How do you reach that balance?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think honestly just experience. You know, not letting your anxiety and adrenaline get the better of you but being able to use it to your advantage, and I think the only way to learn how your body is going to respond to these situations is having been in them before.
So I think that's what has made it easier for me this postseason thus far to draw on some of my past experiences pitching in the postseason and some big games, to just allow me to be a little bit more at ease out there.
Q. Jim, how satisfied are you with the past week and what you did this time as opposed to in 2006, and how much difference do you feel it will make?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, we just tried to come up with something. A lot of people, first of all, want to get the slate clean. It wasn't like in 2006 where some people would indicate we sat around happy to get there, not doing anything, eating bon bons. That wasn't the case. We ran into bad weather problems in Detroit, so we were really handicapped. It didn't really take us by surprise. We figured it could possibly happen, but we were actually over at Ford Field trying to run over some bunt plays and stuff. That read good in the newspaper. We thought we weren't getting a lot out of it, but we were doing the best we could.
This time we didn't want to put the cart before the horse. We couldn't talk about our plan obviously prior to clinching the American League Championship, but we did have behind the scenes we were making a plan to bring our instructional league team up to see live pitching. Our pitchers actually faced our hitters and our hitters faced our pitchers, and we played a couple games and we had a couple nice little workouts; and we had like a five and a seven inning game just to try to stay sharp and do something.
It wasn't some wonderful plan that we came up with. It was pretty much common sense. It was even to the point where if the weather is going to be bad in Detroit, we were going to run it by the players, we were going to talk to them about it. I'm not sure they would have gone for it, and I don't blame them necessarily, but we evened talked about should we go down to Florida for a couple days if the weather is going to be brutal, because you can only get so much done on site.
So this time we've done some things to try to keep us from being idle for four or five days. I definitely think it affected the last World Series, but I would never say it had anything to do with who won because that would be disrespectful to the world champs, St. Louis Cardinals.
But this time we tried to do a few things to keep the guys going, see some live pitching, move around a little bit and take some ground balls and things. How is that going to play out, I have no idea.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.