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October 12, 2006

Kenny Rogers


Q. Can you compare your approach and the feeling coming in to game three here with a 2-0 lead as opposed to coming back here tied 1-1 versus the Yankees?
KENNY ROGERS: I think it's a difference. For me I really try to forget about yesterday as much as possible, because I know it's not going to benefit me tomorrow. But pitching against the Yankees is going to be totally different than pitching against Oakland. By no means is it going to be easier. Every game I pitch at my stage of my career is difficult.
But whatever I have to do tomorrow, I'm trying to make the adjustments that are necessary for us to be successful. I mean, whether I have good stuff or not, I'll just have to try and find a way.

Q. Throughout your career, how has the cold weather affected your command or results of your pitches?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, Texas it never really got that cold, so I never got a lot of experience with it. But I pitched in Minnesota, even though it was a dome, there was a few times that I was coming in when it was snowing. I don't think it's going to be that big of a hurdle. I think we are both going to be playing in the same field, and for me I'll make the necessary adjustments to whatever it is and try to use it to my advantage.

Q. I think earlier in the season you said something to the effect that Detroit isn't as hot as Texas; you felt this was going to benefit you. I guess my question is: Has it -- and have you -- felt a difference this year as opposed to pitching in Texas?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, I would think the last few months I pitched pretty well. But I felt good, felt like I had energy, which in Texas is very difficult to sustain because of the heat and the humidity. It's very difficult to just come out of the bullpen feeling like you have energy, and you haven't even pitched in a game yet.
Here in Detroit and most other cities, you don't have that hurdle to overcome. Here I've been more comfortable, felt good when I was out there, felt like I'm physically better than I would have been if I would have had to endure that type of heat for another season.

Q. You talked about earlier, but talk about what kind of fit this was for you coming to Detroit coming off of last year. It just seems like it's been a perfect fit, win-win deal.
KENNY ROGERS: I would hope so. That's what you want, I guess, when you come to a new place. You want to fit in, do your job, and gain the respect of your teammates and your organization.
But I don't think I've changed anything that I've ever done. I'm the same player, person, everything. But I'm with a group of people here and an organization here that I enjoy tremendously. My managers have been fantastic for me; my general manager has been unbelievable. I can't say enough about Mr. Ilitch. Everything here has been a benefit from the start.
When you combine a great group of players that go out and play the game the right way and are led by Jim Leyland here, you find that you can do some impressive things. And even if nobody else believed we possibly could do that, I think it shows even that though we may not be the most talented or the best in a lot of areas, when you do it the right way, good things are going to happen.

Q. How would you describe your relationship with Dick E., which was another guy when you came here you were comfortable with? And how did he relay whatever message he relayed to you before the Yankees start?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, most people tried to say it before, my relationship with Dick E. Is as strong as anyone in baseball. Since I was, what, 18 or 19 years old I met him, and we've had just a growing relationship since then.
But I always knew what he would do for me at any given time, but I think he also knew the opposite was true, also. I respect him just as much as anyone; trust every word he tells me. He'll call me and give me little bits of information periodically, and even if I wasn't with the Tigers now, he used to do it because we were that close.
But now even more so, I try to listen as much as possible, and that was one of the deciding points, without a doubt, that made it easier for me to come here. Because I knew him first and foremost, and I trusted him. I don't really give my trust away very easily, but when you get it, you have it forever.
Without a doubt, I'm very fortunate that he was here so it gave me the opportunity to come here.

Q. Just to follow up, what was that conversation like with him before the Yankees start?
KENNY ROGERS: I can't say that over the airwaves (laughter). He's short and to the point and doesn't mince his words very much. But if I'm lax or not doing something he knows is not up to my ability level he lets me know, and I appreciate that.
I like coaches that are like that. Oscar Acosta was like that and I appreciated everything he did, too. So people like that, that shoot you straight, even though you don't want to hear it, I like that much more than little subtle approaches sometimes.

Q. Just thinking back to your experience as a free agent last year and looking at the success the team has had this year and the praise Jim has got, at what point Detroit will become a place where free agents will say that's a place I really want to go? Or is that a place you've talked to any of your friends in baseball as a place to play?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, hopefully it'll be long enough to where I can continue the rest of my career here. I don't want to get pushed out too early. But if free agents don't notice the benefits here -- I didn't know until I got here and got to see the differences, but they're missing the mark.
There's a lot of benefits here, by far, that you wouldn't know as a visiting player. And for me, I've been around quite a while, but I appreciate the town, the city, the people. But the travel for a baseball player is very hard, but here it's not that difficult.
It lends itself to being able to relax on certain days that you could get off. There's just more benefits, especially when you have the quality of people here like Dombrowski and like we have in Mr. Ilitch, those things that you can't take for granted.
You add in Jim Leyland and the coaching staff here, and I just got lucky to choose this place. They wanted to bring me in, but also that it worked out. Like I said, I think things happen for a reason, but all the things that were transpiring in the off season as a free agent, right when I went in the door and met them, I knew. I knew where I was going to end up. For me, that's more fortunate than it was for them.

Q. Billy Beane talked about your time in Oakland as being a real signature point in the A's franchise, a real turnaround point. What do you remember from your time there? How do you look back at that? And how do you look at what Billy said, how you kind of helped turn the team around?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, I appreciate that. I think I've tried to -- everywhere I've tried to pitch I tried to do the best that I could and take the ball whenever they give it to me. Pitching in Oakland was fantastic. I mean, I pitched well there obviously, but I had good teams, good people around me.
I was an older guy then, too, but I was surrounded with young, enthusiastic players, which I loved. It helped me a lot, but being able to pitch there in that ballpark, just got comfortable there. When you're comfortable as a player or a pitcher, it lends itself to having success.
I'm not sure how much of an impact I had in the future, but I know I was a capable pitcher at the time. And the young guys that were there, I tried to take little things from them, too, and it didn't matter. I know Tim Hudson and Mulder came by the next year, but I was just fortunate to be there at a period of time where I needed to go start establishing myself again, and they gave me that opportunity.

Q. Will you share with us why you showed so much emotion in that Yankees game?
KENNY ROGERS: Well, it just goes to the opponent for the most part. I mean, knowing you're facing an opponent like that that is that potent in every aspect of the game, I knew that if I was lax in anything, effort, concentration, whatever it was, that I would pay for it dearly.
So I was just making sure that whatever I did, I used every ounce of my being out there for that game because anything less would have been something that benefitted them, and I did not want to give them an inch.

Q. As a starter -- forgetting about your last start quickly and moving right on -- but because the last start was the way it was, what do you have to do to get over that and get ready for this next one?
KENNY ROGERS: A lot of ice (laughter). Physically that was as demanding a game for me as there's going to be, with all the added stuff combined.
I'm glad to get the extra day or so. But if they would have wanted me to pitch any day, I'll pitch whenever Skip tells me to. It doesn't matter.
I'm not going to approach Oakland the same way I approach New York, but I will do what I'm capable of doing in any given situation. It'll be different in that respect. But they're a great ball club. They beat a tremendous Minnesota Twins team, and I know it doesn't get any easier as you go further into the playoffs.

Q. At what point in that Yankees start was it a different style of pitching for you? Did you determine that you wanted to do that before the first pitch? Did it just kind of come to you as the game was going on, that I could do it this certain way, which is maybe a little bit different than what you normally do on the mound?
KENNY ROGERS: I knew before I got there what I was going to try to do. Physically you just have to find out what you have that day when you get in the game, because the bullpen don't really have the indication of what stuff you're going to have.
I knew I needed to establish some velocity and pitch inside and could not be intimidated by them, because when you do, it fuels their fire, gives them more aggressiveness and determination. That was -- my main goal was to let them know that I wasn't going to be intimidated and I was going to come out there and go after them.
Whatever happened after that, so be it. But it was because of the respect I had for their lineup is why I had to be as emotionally in that game as I was.

Q. Can you and do you think you have to match that kind of intensity in this outing? And a follow-up, how much of an effect do the fans have on how much energy you bring to the game tomorrow?
KENNY ROGERS: I think the fans have been tremendous for me all year long. You draw on that as a player. When it's a benefit, you try to use that. And the opposite is true, too. If it's not a benefit, if you're in an opposing park, you try to take it out of the equation.
If it's something I can be better for, I'm going to use it for. The fans have been there all season, and hopefully they'll be there for me tomorrow. My energy level is just going to be like what I feel is appropriate against their hitters. I'm going to try and make the pitches that I think is appropriate to get them out, make as many quality pitches as I can, and that's facing the Oakland A's and not the Yankees.
Not that they're minimalizing it, but they're different hitters. They're just as good in a lot of ways, but I don't know how much I have to duplicate from the last start to this one. I'm just going to see what I have to work with and try and make the best of it.

End of FastScripts...

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