SAN FRANCISCO -- Phil Coke has always had an interesting personality. Now he has a national soapbox. The son of a Northern California prison guard, the left-hander was one of the most entertaining Tigers players at Tuesday's World Series workout day at AT&T Park.
The key to his success, he said, is having fun.
"Ever since I was a little kid, the harder I tried the more I [stunk]," he said. "If I was able to keep my intensity and not try to do too much? You hear that a lot. People trying to do too much popping up or throwing a wild pitch or something because they're trying to be too good instead of just letting it happen. When I allow myself to let it happen is when I seem to excel. And I've been that way ever since I was a little kid. So it's been kind of a life lesson to me. Because I'm rather intense depending on the situation."
And how does he put himself back into a happy state of mind when he's just not feeling it?
"This is not Happy Gilmore, dude. This is not Happy Gilmore in here, man," he said with a smile. "I don't have people riding stick horses and chicks on lounge chairs and stuff like that. I actually just try to think of my daughter and my wife and my family and why I'm doing this particular profession at this point in time in my life. And using that as a personal advantage.
"Because, seriously, it's a kid's game. It's a good time. It's fun. And I don't want that to sound like I'm belittling the game, because I am not. This is an amazing game, it's a fun game, it's America's pastime. And I enjoy myself thoroughly when I play it."
Manager Jim Leyland wouldn't say Tuesday whether Coke or Jose Valverde would be his choice in save situations against the Giants. If nothing else, though, he demonstrated Tuesday that he has a closer's mentality.
Tigers to start Young in left to keep bat in lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- You didn't expect Tigers manager Jim Leyland to sit the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series, did you?
Well, he won't. So in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, with National League rules kicking in, Leyland will start designated hitter Delmon Young in left field at AT&T Park -- home to one of the most expansive outfields in all of baseball.
Young said he planned on taking fly balls during Tuesday's workout, but quipped: "We all look like Gold Glovers with fungoes."
The Tigers will be sacrificing defense, to be sure, but are hoping it pays off with Young continuing to come through in the No. 5 spot behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Young batted .353 (6-for-17) with two homers, two walks, three runs scored and six RBIs as the Tigers swept the Yankees in the ALCS, which concluded six days ago. In the process, he became the first player in history to knock in the run that put his team ahead for good in four straight postseason games.
Now Young -- all 240 pounds of him -- will make only his 30th start of the season at left field, and probably not his last. Giants manager Bruce Bochy is starting this series with back-to-back lefties -- Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner -- which could push the right-handed-hitting Young to start Games 1 and 2 in left. Bumgarner also lines up to start Game 6, if the series comes back to San Francisco.
The fact Austin Jackson covers so much ground in center field certainly helps the cause, and Young's .833 OPS against lefties this season -- compared with his .649 OPS against righties -- probably gave Leyland extra incentive.
Quintin Berry, who starts in left field against righties, will be used as a pinch-runner in Game 1. Leyland still hasn't committed to his starting right fielder, but the splits against Zito point in favor of the young, right-handed-hitting Avisail Garcia over lefty Andy Dirks.
Young, of course, is no stranger to the outfield. He came up as a right fielder, was a full-time DH for the first time in his seven-year career this season and has started a combined 257 games in left field the last two years (in addition to nine of the Tigers' 11 playoff games in 2011). His Ultimate Zone Rating has been negative each of the last six years. It got as low as minus-19.4 in 2008, stood at minus-2.8 last season and was at minus-4.2 in limiting time in 2012.
But the offense he can provide is too important.
"I think it's pretty hard to [sit him], the way he's been swinging the bat," Leyland said recently. "He's the MVP of the American League Championship Series, and swinging the bat as well as he is, it would be pretty hard not to play him."
Admiration flows between Verlander, Morris
SAN FRANCISCO -- Four years after Jack Morris made headlines when he said he believed Justin Verlander was pitching hurt, the current and former Tigers pitching greats have a pretty good relationship going.
Morris has had pointed praise for Verlander while saying he'll need to focus less on strikeouts as he enters the next phase of his career. Verlander, meanwhile, considers Morris a source of advice.
"It wasn't like a mentor-type situation," Verlander explained Tuesday. "It was just I like to pick the brains of baseball players and guys that I've admired, and obviously he's one of them. So any opportunity I have to speak with those individuals, I don't take that for granted. I enjoy doing that.
"He came into the clubhouse in Minnesota [last year], and I had the opportunity, and we had a few minutes and just kind of sat down and talked shop. It wasn't any mind-blowing information or anything that you guys would want to hear, but it was just kind of sitting down and talking our craft."
Tigers temper expectations for pitchers at plate
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Tigers spent the weekend getting Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello used to hitting again by having them take practice. They are not raising expectations for them to be productive hitters.
"I just want to emphasize to lay the bat on the ball," manager Jim Leyland said. "Don't try to do too much, just lay the bat on the ball. If they try to overswing and hit home runs and that kind of stuff, they're wasting their time."
Verlander and Fister will start Games 1 and 2 of the World Series in San Francisco, where the Tigers will not have the luxury of the designated hitter. Smyly and Porcello were included because they could end up in a hitting situation as either a long reliever or a spot starter in case of injury.
Verlander, famously, is 0-for-24 as a hitter, striking out 14 times while laying down nine sacrifice bunts. Fister had two hits as a Mariners pitcher in 2011 but went 0-for-2 with the Tigers this season.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.