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October 2, 2006

Jim Leyland


Q. You guys have had a day to travel and kind of put a little bit behind you. Do you think your team has put it behind you what happened over the weekend?
JIM LEYLAND: Oh, I am not even thinking about that. We're going forward.
I will make this real simple because I knew those questions were going to be asked. Everybody thinks that, I guess anticipates that we blew the division. I guess if you want to look at it that way you can. I look at it like we're a team that won 71 games a year ago and won 95 this year and we're in the Playoffs. We're going forward and we are here to play.

Q. Look liked Marcus looks a lot better today than he did yesterday, certainly the day before. Do you know yet whether you will be able to play him tomorrow and do you have any --
JIM LEYLAND: I know I probably can play him. I am not sure just yet if I will play him.

Q. You are not sure of a lineup yet?

Q. Have you set your rotation for the Playoffs; can you give it to us?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, obviously Robertson is going to start if we came to New York. It worked out exactly the way we had figured it was going to work out. We weren't really playing coming to New York first so here we are so we're our rotation is not messed up at all. It's in exact synch with what we planned. Robertson is going to open up followed by Verlander here, Kenny Rogers on Friday, and Bonderman on Saturday and Robertson on Sunday, obviously if the series goes beyond three, four games. That's our rotation for the whole series.

Q. Do you think your team relishes the underdog role? At the start of the year obviously coming off 90 losses, nobody expected your team to be here. You played very well at times when they didn't. People didn't expect that. Do you think they enjoy being that?
JIM LEYLAND: I am not really sure we're the underdog. I think that -- and when I say that, I am certainly not being disrespectful to the New York Yankees. We know all about the New York Yankees and what a great team, great franchise, all the World Championships. Nobody has more respect than the New York Yankees than we do, but I also believe that when you get down to the final eight teams, that whoever plays good at that particular time, has a chance to win, so I am not looking at us certainly as a favorite and I am not looking at us as an underdog. We're one of the teams that earned the right to be here and in this particular case, we earned the right to play the New York Yankees, so here we are.

Q. It is a little bit different when you play a post-season game at Yankee Stadium. Have you addressed that to the players or did it make no difference where it was going to be played?
JIM LEYLAND: If you want to be the best you got to beat the best and the Yankees, for the most part, over the history of baseball, have been the best. I want my players to relish playing in Yankee Stadium. I hope that they look around. I hope that they appreciate all the history and tradition of the New York Yankees because it's the best in sport. I want them to admire it. I want them to cherish this opportunity. What I certainly don't want them is to fear anything. And we won't. If we're good enough, we're good enough and if we're not, we're not, but it won't be because we're in awe. Like I said, we have the utmost respect. They are tremendous. Maybe one of the best lineups in the history of baseball in last recent years, we know that, but I think we have done a little something too and we have earned the right to be here and we're going to give it our best shot.

Q. A couple of years ago the Marlins all talked about how Pudge Rodriguez made such a huge difference for their pitchers; especially their young guys. What kind of impact has he had?
JIM LEYLAND: He's a veteran guy, obviously, that knows the league. Been around a while. He knows the league; done an excellent job with our pitching staff this year. They have taken great leaps and bounds which we thought they had a chance to do. We took a shot on a couple of veteran guys; took a shot on a couple of young kids and then we figured that the guys like the Bondermans and the Robertsons and people like that would be able to step it up this year and that's what's happened. So it's been kind of a nice combination.

Q. You talk about the history of the Yankees you want your players to know. What about this lineup 1 to 9, ever seen a lineup like this and not be fearful looking at it?
JIM LEYLAND: Respectful is one thing; fearful is another. I am sure that Joe Torre is a little bit more relaxed than I am (Laughter.)

Q. What do you think about Nate as a Game 1 starter?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, obviously if you look at the Yankee lineup, although they have done well against lefties, they do well against everybody. We thought that was the best fit for this particular game. He pitched a decent game against them before, and he was our choice, and I live with that and I think it's a good choice, you don't -- nobody gets into the Playoffs and then all of a sudden, you know, reaches in their back pocket and pulls out Koufax and Drysdale and Bob Gibson. Nate Robertson is a good pitcher, he deserve to be out there tomorrow night and he will be out there tomorrow night.

Q. With the nature of the postseason series talking about five games in six days, how does that affect how you use your bullpen, you've able to get some pretty good rest for Zumaya and Rodney. With every game being important, does that change now as far as how long, how often you can use them?
JIM LEYLAND: I use my bullpen the way I see fit. Obviously recent days we used our bullpen because we had to and not because we wanted to. That's always a disaster. Hopefully in this series we'll use our bullpen because we want to. If we do that, we'll be in good shape. If we use it on a consistent basis because we have to, then we'll be going home early.

Q. Your last 50 games you were 19 and 31. What would be the biggest reason for that; what would you say the reason is for that?
JIM LEYLAND: I think it's a combination of things. We didn't pitch quite as well; didn't hit quite as well; probably didn't catch the ball quite as well because we didn't get the breaks that we caught earlier. We caught big breaks earlier in the season. Instead of seeing somebody 1 and 2 we were seeing 4 and 5 but we're a real good team and don't sell us short. We deserve to be here. I think everybody thought that -- like I said we had a 10-game lead, we got that real quick and we lost it real quick. So I really never considered us having a 10-game lead. We had 3-, 4- or 5-game lead whatever it was, and then somebody lost five quick then we lost five quick; then it was back to where it. We're legitimate. I can tell you that. We won 95 ball games. I am extremely proud of our ballclub in the sense that there were three teams in the Central Division that won 90 games or more and a year ago at this time, about three days ago, the Chicago White Sox led the Cleveland Indians by one game. And neither one of those two teams are here this year. It's the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers, I think that speaks volumes about our division.

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