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October 20, 2006

Justin Verlander


Q. Justin, in the NLCS with the hitters in front of Pujols and behind him and Mets stopped throwing him strikes, and made him get himself out on pitches, is that the logical tactic to take with Pujols right now?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, right now maybe. But we haven't really discussed that or our game plan against that. Obviously they're good hitters. They can turn it around at any time. The thing is, you know, if you end up putting Pujols on, because you're not throwing him strikes, and then the guy behind him starts getting hot, you're kind of in trouble. So it's a double-edged sword.

Q. When did you find out that you'd be starting Game 1 and how excited were you when you found out?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Last night when the game ended, I found out. It was a situation where I wasn't going to be Game 1 if it was the Mets, and I was against the Cardinals. I don't know why that is, but when they won last night I was pretty excited. I couldn't go to bed for a little while. I stayed up thinking about it.

Q. Were you surprised that you're getting the first game start and do you think pitching in New York in that big game alleviates any nerves?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I think somewhat it does. That's about as big as it gets, is pitching in New York in the postseason as far as nerves. I've actually felt all right out there. I haven't been too nervous or anxious or anything like that, been on a pretty good even keel. I'm just ready to go.

Q. You guys started the year without a lot of expectations, not a lot of people expected you to be here, you struggled down the stretch. But now getting through the Yankees and sweeping your way to the series, you're considered favorites. Does that change anything for this people?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think so. I think we view ourselves as the underdogs, personally. I don't think there's any way -- since day 1 that we've been doubted through the first half, we were doubted, the second half we kind of fell off a little bit and they were like seeing it happen. The postseason, we're going to lose the first series, and we were underdogs all the way through the entire season up to now.
I don't see how we're the underdogs in our own mind when everybody has doubted us.

Q. Did Jim call you last night after the game?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I knew the situation. I knew if the Cardinals won I was going to be starting tomorrow.

Q. In terms of playing for him from a pitcher's perspective, what's it been like to play for Jim Leyland all year?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's been an honor. For him to be my first Major League manager for a whole year has been great. Everybody always talks about his people skills and how he knows people, and that's absolutely the truth. He knows when to push guys, knows when to laugh with them or make them angry, and it's just -- it's been great.

Q. Can you talk about working with a guy like Pudge, the young pitcher, what advantages it has brought to you and how he handles his stuff?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It's definitely an advantage, especially him having gone through this before. You know, with Beckett, another young guy that throws hard, it's definitely advantageous us for me, that he's gone through this with another guy that's similar to me. I don't want to say the same pitcher at all, but he's got a good idea of what he's doing back there. Having complete faith in him makes it easier for me. That's another thing I don't have to worry about.

Q. Do you know what game you would have pitched if the Mets had won?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think it would have been 3.

Q. You said you couldn't get to sleep last night, when did you finally get to sleep?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think like 2:00, 2:30. It's not too bad. It's kind of a regular schedule for me to go to bed that time and wake up at noon. But I really wanted to go to bed a little bit earlier, because I'm under the impression the night before, the night before is the most important night's sleep. Especially when I found out they won, I went to bed and tried to go to sleep and that wouldn't happen.

Q. The week off, physically, mentally, was that a really good relief to be off a week?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think it was. I definitely used the time. Pitching late into October my first year, the innings are a lot and there's some fatigue going on. Being able to rest my arm a little bit and kind of recuperate before this next series, definitely helps. Mentally it would be nice to step away from the game and not even think about it, but at the same time you've got the World Series looming right in front of you, so you really can't forget about it. So I guess that's good.
You're away from the field but you still have it in the back of your mind, it never really leaves you.

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