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September 30, 2011

Jim Leyland


Q. Jim, if people take the tact against the Tigers to not let Miguel Cabrera beat them, why do you think your lineup is equipped to beat that?
JIM LEYLAND: That's why we went out and got Victor Martinez. It took a lot of pressure off me because I didn't have to answer questions about that anymore. I think he has responded very well obviously with the type of year he has had.
We feel very comfortable with Victor behind Miguel right now. There's no question about that. He's a very professional hitter. He's knocked in over 100 runs. There's never a perfect lineup but we think we have the guy to hit behind him.

Q. What has the Fister trade meant to your success and why has he been so successful?
JIM LEYLAND: The Fister trade was a guy who was kind of under the radar at the trading deadline. We had him on our radar. There wasn't a lot of talk about him. I would love to say I knew exactly what he was going to do, but I can't tell that you honestly.
He has been fantastic. He's a pitcher that knows how to use both sides of the plate. He's actually got a few more strikeouts here than I would have thought he would have gotten. He's done a fantastic job and it came at a right time. As I said yesterday, Dave Dombrowski going out at the trading deadline I think it really set a good tempo for our team that we were serious about trying to win the Central and get in the postseason. I think that really helped the morale of the club. I think it did wonders for us.

Q. Jim, for as accomplished as Verlander is, he tends sometimes to get a little excited in big events, particularly big stage events. That has been a little bit of a problem in the past. Do you have any sense for how he's going to keep calm tonight?
JIM LEYLAND: I think he's matured a lot. I listened to his press conference yesterday, to be honest with you, and I thought he made a good comment about your point. He said the adrenaline is good and it has to be controlled. He's aware of that. Hopefully going into this game -- this is a big stage, obviously. CC Sabathia, the New York Yankees. All the hype about Justin Verlander and certainly our club. That's just the way it is.
I think controlled adrenaline is pretty good. It's the thing I talk about, concentration and relaxation. That's a good combination.

Q. At what point did you start to think that Fister could be basically a Game 2 playoff starter for you? Obviously he didn't seem to fit that profile when he came over.
JIM LEYLAND: I didn't know for sure. Certainly when we got him I didn't know he would end up starting the second game of the playoffs. I think as we went on, certainly we have all the confidence in the world in Max Scherzer, I think as we went on, I think Verlander and Scherzer became our hottest pitchers. So I just decided to go that way. I thought that made a lot of sense. And I couldn't have predicted that when we got him. But as it turned out, I felt like he and Justin were our hottest pitchers. That's the way we decided to go.

Q. What type of steadying presence has Phil Coke been for the back of your bullpen?
JIM LEYLAND: He's really solidified our bullpen. We experimented with Phil in the starting rotation. I'm not sure that still couldn't work at some point. But we got him back in the bullpen and once we did, I think it really helped solidify our bullpen a little bit. We had the guy down there that had some experience, a little more experienced left-hand pitcher.
I think he was probably a little bit relieved, although he's a real pumped-up guy most of the time. So it's probably something that he didn't really want to admit, and I understand that. But I think he got a little more comfortable when he got back home in the bullpen. I think it really helped turn our bullpen around a little bit and solidify it.

Q. Jim, there were reports a couple of weeks ago that during the winning streak you didn't change your underwear. I'm just curious what went into that decision and if there were challenges associated with doing something like that.
JIM LEYLAND: Well, actually, there are stores in New York that sell underwear. I will be wearing some tonight. I will be wearing the same ones tonight. And if we win, I'll be wearing the same ones tomorrow.

Q. Jim, you've got both Brad Penny and Rick Porcello on the roster. How do you envision using them in this series?
JIM LEYLAND: That's a very good question. Porcello is going to start Game 4. Penny is going to be in long relief. You know, there's some rain possibilities, as you all know at playoff time. You don't know if you might need a spot starter. That could happen. And he will be in the bullpen as a long reliever.
And really, I'm sure I'm going to ask the question how we decided on our roster. It came down to only the pitching was a decision, to be honest with you. It was between three guys. And we felt like was there a significant difference somewhere in that selection? And we came up with -- the answer was you could go any way but there wasn't a significant difference.
I'm very proud of this decision. I really think in the end I think this is what we stand for. Brad Penny took the ball every five days. He pitched 180 innings. You can say what you want about his statistics, whatever. He pitched 180 innings for the Detroit Tigers this year in the number five spot. 180 innings and won 11 games. That's pretty good for a fifth starter. I think you have to do things right, and I think he deserved to be on this roster.

Q. Jimmy, I'm sure you probably agree that managing can be a "what have you done for us lately" business. I guess Terry Francona is finding that out up in Boston. But you said yourself yesterday that this was -- at the beginning of the year, anyway, it was kind of a rocky situation for you as far as rumors and everything else. Overall, has this been one of the more gratifying seasons in your managing career? And I'm just wondering what keeps you ticking like this.
JIM LEYLAND: I think so. I think it has been very rewarding. You know, you hear all the stuff, you read all the stuff. Most people say they don't hear it and don't read it. They probably are fibbing, to be honest with you. I knew all about it. I knew all the articles and all the talk shows and everything. But it's what we do. You have to be strong in this game, and you have to accept it. And I don't mind any of that stuff. I tell our writers all the time, second-guessing and getting on the managers, that's all part of it. To me that means they're talking baseball. I don't have any problem with that. To me the only problem I have with any of that stuff is when somebody gets vicious, when somebody goes for the throat when it's not necessary.
If you want to fire the manager, fire the manager. People who get vicious, I don't care for that. The second-guessing that's all part of baseball. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. That means the Tigers are in the headlines, they're talking baseball. I don't have any problem with that. That's what we do. You learn -- you have to learn to be a little calloused in this business. If you're a coach or a manager, that's just the way it is.
I see all kind of descriptions of myself, gruff and mean and I don't really think any of that, to be honest with you. I think I'm a hell of a guy, to be honest with you (Laughter). But you do have to be able to take that stuff. That's just what it is.
So I have confidence in my team. I have confidence in myself. It wasn't going to change the way I work. I'm going to give my owner the best I've got every day. I've done that all my career. Whatever happens, happens. You know what, if the players play good enough, I probably got a job. If they don't, I don't have a job. That's the way it is.

Q. You obviously still love it.
JIM LEYLAND: I love it. I've got a lot of fire. I've accepted a one-year extension and I just took one year, because that way nobody is hung up if that time comes when they don't want me or I don't want to do it anymore, there's no strings attached. There's no contract, there's no buyout, there's nothing.
Right now I love it. I've got a lot of energy. I think I'm pretty decent relating to young players as well as the veteran players. And when I don't have that energy, I'm going to go home.
Right now I feel real good about it. I've accepted a one-year extension and we'll see how it plays out.

Q. Curtis Granderson was a wildly popular player when he played for the Tigers. Why do you think that was? And how do you expect him to be received in Game 3?
JIM LEYLAND: I think they'll love it. He's pretty popular in New York right now, too. He's an outstanding player. This is a perfect fit for him. The ballpark is made for that power he's got. He's a wonderful, wonderful guy, as you know. He's very energetic both on and off the field. He's a very charitable person. He's all the things that are right about baseball. He's a very intelligent guy. He's had a wonderful year. We're happy for him. We're also happy with the guy we got in return. That worked out pretty good for us as well.

Q. Can we go back a couple of topics, briefs or boxers?
JIM LEYLAND: Long ones. I guess those are -- those are boxers. Longer than the boxer trunks, normally.

Q. In '06, you suffered a difficult loss in Game 1 and bounced back. Are there differences in the way you manage a five-game series as opposed to a seven-game series?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I manage every game pretty much the same. You try to win the game. You do what you think as a manager -- you do what you think it takes to win the game. That's the way I manage whether it's June 1st or April 1st or September 15th or whatever. You try to win the game. That's what you do. You try to put your players in a situation where they can be successful, and I don't think postseason changes any of that. There's a little more hype about it, so people -- you're under the microscope a little bit more. But I don't think you necessarily do anything different. I'm not going to do anything different in this game. We're going to try to beat the New York Yankees. It's not going to be easy, but that's what we're going to attempt to do.
I don't really change anything.

Q. Jim, you haven't faced Ivan Nova as a starter, when you look at Game 2. What do you know about Nova?
JIM LEYLAND: That's a great question. We're a little concerned about that. We don't know a whole lot, other than what we see on tape, what the scouts say. We have all that information. But really the hitters will have to get a little better feel for that when they get in the box. You can give guys reports. You never know how it's going to play out.
We know he's very good. I think he won 16 games. Very impressive. You know what, when you get to postseason, you expect to see a real good pitcher every night. I wish we were a little more familiar with him, but we're not. That's all part of it. We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there. We're very impressed with him. The tapes I've looked at he's very impressive. It's something our hitters will have to contend with.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jim.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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