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October 5, 2012

Jim Leyland


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Jim.

Q.  Jim, what's the difference in feeling between last year and this year, as far as going into the playoffs?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, I think it's been a little different type year, obviously.  Last year we had a great run at the end, and we had a pretty good run at the end this year.
Last year, it was decided pretty early.  This year it hasn't been.  So we've had a little less time, really, to prepare for all the stuff you have to prepare for for postseason.
But basically we're here now.  So it's pretty much the same.  It's a good feeling to get there, and hopefully we'll be able to advance.

Q.  Can you talk about what went into the decisions of the rotation for Games 2, 3, and 4, please?
JIM LEYLAND:¬† Yes.¬† I think it's pretty obvious one that Verlander was going to‑‑ rested was going to open up the first game, which assures the situation.¬† It was pretty obvious that Fister was going to pitch the second game.
And where you get into a little bit of dilemma there, as I mentioned, the Scherzer situation, coming off a little bit of the ankle situation and the shoulder.¬† We decided that that would be the best way to go.¬† And it would also‑‑ just by pitching him, Sanchez in front of Scherzer, would keep Sanchez from keeping off too, too long.¬† I know it's only one day, but it's a little help.

Q.  Can you talk about just Scherzer coming out of that start, how he felt the next day and just is he on track?
JIM LEYLAND:  He was actually here yesterday with our trainers, and everything went well.  There was no aftermath of anything bad.  Everything went well.  And he felt good yesterday.  And he is scheduled and will pitch when his turn comes up.

Q.  What's your take on the A's going into the series?
JIM LEYLAND:  They've been a great story.  I think it's been an unbelievable year for baseball, and the Oakland A's are part of the story.  We have our own thing with the Triple Crown with Cabrera, but Baltimore and Oakland A's have been the great stories of the year as far as the team goes.  They've been absolutely unbelievable.  I watched them the other day, their game against Texas.  We saw them not too long ago.  We don't know a lot about them.  We saw them really early and real late.
It's a very, very good team.  And they're enjoying it.  They're playing loose.  They're having fun.  Very impressive.  And Bob Melvin has just done an unbelievable job.
So when you get to this point, you're going to play a good team.  You can bank on that.  In fact, at the end of the season, you can bank they're good teams.
This is a real good team that's playing good.  I want to say somewhere around June15th, I may be wrong on that, but I think somewhere around June15th, since June15th they've had the best record in the American League.  So they're good.

Q.¬† With it all coming down to the final days with the American League and so many questions in the air, it has made it almost seems like the playoff atmosphere started a little early for all the teams.¬† How do you think that really goes into the series making it a competitive series from the get‑go?
JIM LEYLAND:  That's a good question.  I don't really know how it's going to play out, but certainly, including us, we've been playing in some real meaningful games for quite a while now.  As well as obviously the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Baltimore, New York.  The fact that everybody has been in the same situation probably does not give anybody any edge, because we've all been doing that.  It's not been just one team.
I think the remarkable thing‑‑ I think when you talk about how difficult it is to win, I think the remarkable thing that I was thinking about this going into today so I would have a little pearl for you guys, but if you think about it, there's three divisions in the American League, and those three divisions were won by a total of five games.¬† A total of five games:¬† us by two, New York by two, and Oakland by one.
That's unbelievable.  I mean, it's mindboggling to me.  So I think that tells everybody how difficult it is to win.

Q.  As you told us the other day, the deadline is tomorrow for setting the roster.  Is there any news at all today you can give us about the roster?
JIM LEYLAND:  No, we pretty much have our roster in sync.  We're going to take the liberty of using the last hours to put it in like everybody else does at 10:00, I believe.  Tomorrow morning is the deadline.  That's what we'll do as well.
But I have my roster in my mind, but there's always‑‑ you never know about a last‑minute issue or something like that.¬† So we're just going to take the allotted time and we'll turn it in at 10:00 tomorrow morning.¬† We're not trying to deceive anybody.¬† There's no tricks here.¬† It is what it is.
But we just felt like‑‑ in speaking with Dave Dombrowski this morning, we felt like we'll just put ours in when everybody else does.¬† And for no particular reason other than the fact that‑‑ but you do never know.¬† Some last‑minute thing could come up, somebody tweak an injury or something of that nature and you feel it necessary to make a move, and you still do that rather than have you guys all have it today and etch it in stone and tomorrow it's changed.¬† That's the only reason for that.

Q.  Can you just talk about Verlander tomorrow?  It used to be Verlander with a bigger game got a little amped up it doesn't seem that it's that way anymore.  Could you talk about what you expect from your ace tomorrow?
JIM LEYLAND:¬† I think you've got to worry a little bit about‑‑ I think every manager worries a little bit about anybody getting overhyped or too pumped up in these situations.
But certainly Justin's been through it before now.  He's grown leaps and bounds over the last few years.  So I think he'll still be pumped up.  But I think he'll be able to channel that.  I don't expect that to be an issue.

Q.  Are you still going to go with 11 pitchers?

Q.¬† And can you discuss the factors‑‑ we were told about your rotation.¬† Can you discuss the factors about Sanchez ahead of Scherzer?
JIM LEYLAND:  Yeah.  I just explained that a little bit.  The reason we did that is because obviously Scherzer was coming off the little nagging thing there, and then on top of that the ankle thing.
And it also‑‑ it would only be one more day, but we figured we didn't want Sanchez to sit too long.¬† So take advantage of the Scherzer situation by having him follow Sanchez, and then have Sanchez pitch a day earlier than he would if he pitched in front of Scherzer so he wouldn't sit too, too long, even though it's been quite a while now.
So that's why that decision was made.  It has nothing to do with ballparks or rotation, anything like that, other than that's what we kind of thought about.  And we thought with Scherzer, you know, getting back into it the other night in Kansas City for the five innings, came out of it real good.  But just for a little precautionary measure to give him the extra day I think is probably smart.

Q.¬† Do you think there's any advantage or disadvantage to this 2‑3 format with you guys having to play the two quick games at home?¬† Do you feel like there's more pressure to win these games when you have to play three on the road?
JIM LEYLAND:  No.  I don't really think so.  I really like the format myself because it eliminates that travel.  You know before last year we, two in New York, come back here for two, and have to jump back on the plane and go back to New York.  That won't happen this year.  It's going to be obviously be decided in two series.
I mean, one here at home and one at Oakland, it will be over.  Last year it took the third game or the fifth game, actually.  But the third trip to decide that.  So I like this.  I think it makes a lot of sense.  I would think it's a good economical move as well.
So I think it makes a lot of sense.  I like it.  I don't have any problem with it at all.

Q.¬† Secondly, this is the first time since 1934, '35 that the Tigers have been in the postseason back‑to‑back years. ¬†What kind of comment do you have on that to the meaning for the franchise for this?
JIM LEYLAND:  We're real proud of that.  I don't really make a big deal about too much.  But it's kind of weird really that that happened.  '34, '35.  It's kind of weird that our Triple Crown winner, 45years.
So a lot of things have happened this year in baseball that have been pretty interesting.  And certainly we're proud of that fact that it's the first time it's been done.  But that won't mean anything tomorrow when the umpire says play ball.  That will be a nice memory for somebody and it's already been a nice column.  People have talked about it.  We appreciate it.
I think people have acknowledged us and we certainly appreciate that acknowledgment.  But this is a whole new season.

Q.  Fister obviously missed a good half of the season with injuries.  Seemed like he really got back into form once he got healthy.  Can you compare the impact he made down the stretch this year compared to last year when he came over after the trade?
JIM LEYLAND:  I think I would have to say it's different because what he did last year was kind of unexpected.  And this year maybe some more was expected.  So I think there's a difference there.
I think last year it was like a bolt of lightning what he did.  This year it was more like the old shoe.  He's comfortable here.  Now we're comfortable with him.  And we expect good things.
So there's definitely been a difference.

Q.  I know you're not into comparing teams.  However, is there a benefit this year's team has in the postseason than last year's team?  I know there were a lot of injuries last year in the ALCS.  But with having experienced guys and essentially the same team coming back?
JIM LEYLAND:  No, I don't think so.  I've really not bought that everybody thinks that if you got some guys that have been to the postseason before they'll automatically win this time around.  I don't think it works that way.  I don't think guys are in it for the first time can do just as well as guys who have been in it before.
I think the one issue that is something to contend with is the fact that when guys have not been in it, and are in it for the first time, there are a lot of distractions if you let them be.  And by that I mean tickets, travel, hotels, picking up people at the airport.  There can be a lot of distractions if you're not careful.
And I was fortunate enough to experience this with the Chicago White Sox back in 1983 as a coach.  And, believe me, it does get a little draining if you're not careful.
But we've educated our players on that.  We've talked about that.  That's one of the things we have spoken about:  Be careful, you know, because there's going to be an aunt and an uncle that didn't get as good a seat as the other aunt and uncle, and you're going to hear about it.
If you let it get to you and lose focus about what we're trying to do here‑‑ I'm not being funny‑‑ just don't lose focus of what we're trying to do.¬† But it should be an enjoyable time for everybody.¬† There should be a lot of tension, there should be a lot of pressure, but there should be a lot of enjoyment and everything.¬† And hopefully that is the way it works out with everybody.
But there are distractions, and I would say that's the only thing that a team that's been there before‑‑ that would be the only edge over a team that hasn't been there before.¬† A team that hasn't been there before is going to find out exactly what I'm talking about.

Q.¬† Because you have such a powerful 3‑4, does that add or detract from the emphasis on Jackson having to be a catalyst?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, I think that when you get to postseason, you never know what's going to happen.  You know that Coco Crisp was their catalyst.  You know Jackson's our catalyst.  I've learned a long time ago in postseason that a lot of times it doesn't play out the way you think it's going to play out.
There's some guy that was just an ordinary second baseman that nobody talked about much ended up being an MVP, things of that nature.
I mean, they have Coco and we have Austin, and that's the catalyst.  But everybody's going to have to contribute.  If you want to win in postseason, you'll have to get some help from a lot of different places, and you're going to have to get a big hit from different places.
So I really don't think that that has much to do with it.

Q.  Jim, you've told us I believe that the time you managed Bob Melvin was in the Instructional League after the'81 season.
JIM LEYLAND:  I believe that's correct.

Q.  So that would be right before you got the White Sox job, right?
JIM LEYLAND:  That would be correct.

Q.  Do you know exactly how that played out, like how many days there were or anything?
JIM LEYLAND:¬† Well, I just remember Bob was an excellent catcher.¬† He was like all of us, there was a question mark whether he was going to hit or not.¬† But he was always a very bright student of the game.¬† You could see that right from the get‑go.
He's done a wonderful, wonderful job.  I do remember it because that's the year I left the Tigers was in the fall of 1981.  I was managing an Instructional League, and Chicago White Sox called for me to be a coach.  And I can remember to this day I called the Tigers and Bill Lajoie, and I said, Look, if you can bring me up under any circumstances, bullpen coach without the pension or anything, I'll be willing to do it.  But if that can't happen, then I've gotta go.
And Sparky, and rightfully so, had his people, and there was just no possible way that I was going to be added to that staff.  So I made the decision to go on and coach third for the Chicago White Sox.  As it turned out, it was a very good decision because in 1983 we got in the playoffs.  We won 100 games.  And as a third base coach I got some exposure, and actually had two interviews for Major League jobs that following winter.

Q.¬† You've talked all season long about the crowds, how great they've been.¬† I know you're not shocked that tomorrow's going to be a sell‑out.¬† Can you just talk about the atmosphere that you anticipate from this team or from this crowd tomorrow and Sunday?
JIM LEYLAND:  Well, you know, the job at hand is for us and the atmosphere is for the fans.  That's the way it should be.  It's going to be obviously sold out.  It's going to be hopping.
But we're kind of used to that.  I mean, we get really a little bit spoiled.  I don't know if they'll hand out the hankies to wave or anything.  That's a little bit different than the regular season.
But it's pretty neat.  And this is a happening.  My family's coming.  They're going to enjoy the atmosphere.  My son, who is in the organization, will come with a couple of buddies, and they'll enjoy it.
But that's for them.  Dad's working and the players are working.  And you know we want it to be an enjoyable experience for anybody that comes.  And hopefully, obviously, a winning experience.  That usually makes it a little bit more enjoyable.
But it's going to be neat.  We know the atmosphere.  The weather's going to be a little cool.  But seeing our fans all year, most of them will be pretty warmed up, I think.
So they're going to have a hell of a time tomorrow.  I just hope they're having as hell of a time after the game as they have before and during the game.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Jim.

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