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March 22, 2017

Jim Leyland

Los Angeles, California

Q. You mentioned yesterday that this has been in some ways the best experience that you've had and the worst. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit, and what are some of the things that you've really enjoyed about it and some of the things that you could do without?
JIM LEYLAND: Please don't anyone take that the wrong way. What I meant by that is when you're dealing with your on own players as manager with your own team, it's totally different than when you're dealing with valuable property for other organizations, and you're very nervous about people getting injured or people not getting enough playing time, not getting enough at-bats. So there is some added pressure here that you don't have when you manage your own team. That's what I meant by that.

The best part about it has been the guys, the way they've competed. I think we've at least been a small part of maybe putting this WBC on the map for the United States more so than in the past, and I'm hoping in the future that a lot of the players have seen what's happened here and will be a little bit more excited about playing in this event.

So that's what I meant by it. It's been wonderful. So, please, I'm not trying to put a negative side on this in any way, shape, or form. I'm just telling you it's a lot of pressure when you're dealing with other people's property, that's very valuable property and very instrumental for what's about to start for them in a couple weeks.

Q. Having watched all four of these, every manager has handled it a little bit differently. But it seems like in your case you decided to go with the hotter hands and guys like Goldschmidt and Murphy and a couple of other people have been kind of relegated to the bench. When did you decide what you were going to do and keep units together rather than try to play everybody?
JIM LEYLAND: I think you try to be a little creative early in the tournament and try to do some things with the lineup and guys playing. Then as it gets down to this point, I think you've just got to go with what you feel gives you your best shot. I think that's really important. That's kind of what I've done.

As I mentioned last night, there is no question that Bregman and Harrison have gotten the short end of the stick. I apologize for that. So our little twist that we're putting in tonight, we're coming in from right field and we have two flag bearers carrying the flags, and that will be Harrison and Bregman. So we tried to put a little twist in there that would show our appreciation for what they've done.

Q. I haven't seen your lineup, but I understand it's basically the same. Arenado is batting clean-up again tonight?
JIM LEYLAND: He is, yeah. I don't think this is the time to change anything. Like a lot of guys, he's probably put a little extra pressure on himself, but I'm not changing anything. I've said all along, if we're good enough, we're good enough. If we're not, we're not.

Q. I was going to ask about how difficult it is, you play basically every other day for two weeks. It's hard for guys to get into a rhythm and all that stuff. On the other hand, you know what kind of players these are, you know what kind of hitters they are over a longer period of time. So balancing that, has that been one of the more difficult aspects of this?
JIM LEYLAND: It has been, but I think what you have to remember in this thing, it's like when people talk about, well, that's a hitter's park, this is a hitter's park, that's a hitter's park. But if you check into that, most of the ones that aren't hitter's parks have real good pitching. I mean, that's how that works.

So, like I said, the pitcher that pitched for Japan last night, he's a Major League pitcher. I mean, he was outstanding. So you see good pitching in this event. I mean, there's no cupcakes. If you can get to the second tiers once in a while, you find some guys that maybe you can do a little bit better against. But when you're starting against these teams right now, you're going to see a really good pitcher, and, obviously, that makes hitting a little more difficult.

Q. You guys won your first game to Colombia, had to go extra innings, then lost to the Dominican Republic. Since those first two games, which were a little bit of a struggle, it seems there has been better energy and performance from your guys. Was there a talking point or discussion that's led to the better play after those games?
JIM LEYLAND: No, we've just kind of stayed the course. Like I said yesterday, I don't want to bore you, but my theme all along has been make a memory, fellas. And it's going to be a good memory regardless of what happens tonight. But just make a memory.

We've moved on, and like I said, the first game we barely got by Colombia, and I think some people were chuckling at us. And people forget that Colombia was 90 feet away from beating the Dominican.

You know, these teams are good. There's no rah-rah stuff or anything. Our guys, everybody knows what's at stake here tonight. Like I said, we're going to try to win this game like we have every other game. We're going to face a team that's been the best team in the format so far, and we had to beat an undefeated team last night to get here. And if we want to win it, we've got to beat another undefeated team. Pretty simple, really.

Q. Stroman already pitched against Puerto Rico, and at that time he was not a great pitcher. What is your expectation for tonight's game for his pitching?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I know he's going to compete. I love this kid. John Gibbons is a really good friend of mine; he pitches for him in Toronto. I've watched this kid, and we're going to get his best shot tonight. He's a competitor.

I think Tanner Roark competed last night. Lugo for them is going to compete. This is what this thing is all about. I mean, we've played about -- this is going to be our third Game 7 in a row, I think. Those are fun.

Q. Is there anyone unavailable out of your bullpen tonight?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, everybody's available, but I won't use Jones. I won't use Jones tonight. But I've talked to some managers and pitching coaches in the last 24 hours, and we had a good conversation about using guys back-to-back for the first time, but with a limit on pitches.

So you won't see somebody that pitched last night throw a lot of pitches. I have Andrew Miller tonight for some pitches, maybe a left-handed hitter possibly or something like that. Dyson can come back tonight. I talked to Jeff Banister this morning.

So, like I said, this is a process. You have a lot of conversations. But we're pretty much full boat in the bullpen tonight.

Q. You talked about this before, but now that you've been through an entire cycle of World Baseball Classic, what do you think about this tournament? What do you think about the possibility of international baseball in general catching on in the United States?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, when I took this job, Marcel Lachemann was originally supposed to be with us. Unfortunately, he couldn't be with us. But he told me the tension and everything is going to be worse than the World Series, and I'm not sure I disagree with that. I mean, it's unbelievable.

It probably sounds crazy, but the intensity and everything, it's right up there. Like I say, Yadier Molina, I read his quotes and Bob's article about he's won a couple World Series, but playing for your country is a whole different thing. So it's pretty intense.

Q. You sort of just touched on this, but a minute ago you said you've basically played three Game 7s in a row. Setting aside the intensity, the atmosphere and whatnot, on a practical level, is this like managing a Game 7? Is it the same, is it different in some ways?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, yeah, it's something that you obviously really enjoy. It's been a grind. It's basically -- for a few days it's been win or go home.

I'm stressed. I'll be honest with you, I'm stressed. And I've got to get up at four o'clock in the morning to catch a six-something flight back to Lakeland, Florida, with the Tigers.

You know, I'm old, I'm tired, but I'll be ready tonight.

Q. How many managers or general managers have you had conversations with since last night?
JIM LEYLAND: A couple. More managers than general managers. Probably three managers, for sure.

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