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10/03/06 6:22 PM ET

Jim Leyland pregame interview

Tigers manager discusses facing the Yankees in Game 1

Q. The other day, Tom Kelly was in here, scouting for the Twins, and he was handed this Yankee lineup and he was looking at it and jokingly wrote on it, "Gardy, what am I supposed to do with this?" And he sent it off to Gardenhire. When you look at this lineup, how do you guys even prepare for this with Roberts and everything?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I told everybody, they have got Murders Row and then Cano. That's not a good feeling.

I think that you have to pitch aggressively, you have to go after them, and you have to take your chances. And I think if you try to tiptoe around them, you're going to get beat.

So I want to take our best shot, I want to go right at them, and, you know, if they beat us that way, I can live with that, but I don't want to pitch defensive or play defensive in the entire series.

So that's the way we're going to go about them. Obviously it's not an easy lineup. You know, I've read a lot of things about it, I've seen it firsthand, and it's real good.

So, post season, New York Yankees, you're probably going to have a pretty good lineup.

Q. Tomorrow you're pitching Verlander. You rested him, do you expect that to work in Game 2; should he be rested now?

JIM LEYLAND: I really don't know what to expect. You know, he had a little bit of a layoff, so I don't know for sure. He's healthy, there's no question about that. That's not even a question.

So it's a matter of is he going to be sharp with his control, I really don't know. He hasn't been out there for a few days. I would assume his stuff will be good. You never know how that's going to work out. I'll have to wait and see that one.

He's a good case for game two. We have our pitching lined up, how we had it lined up all along if we did play the Yankees, so we are what we are.

Q. Could you talk about Mike Mussina and the problems that he presents?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, Mike Mussina presents problems because he never gets in a pattern. He very rarely throws the same pitch twice in a row. So he keeps the hitters off balance and that's what pitching is. You'll see guys with better arms in the post season, but you won't see people that know how to pitch any better. That's his strong suit. So that makes him extremely tough.

Q. How would you describe your emotions today, tonight, compared to three years in Pittsburgh and the year with Florida, again, going into the first game?

JIM LEYLAND: I think it's very similar. You know, obviously you're nervous but not scared, and I think that's good. I'm glad I'm nervous. I think that normally makes me better.

But it's post season time. That's what you play for, and you know, what better setting. I mean, usually these things go through New York somehow or another. You know, if you want to take a trip to the World Series, it seems that the Yankees are involved in that all the time.

So we're on a big stage tonight, you know, National TV, Yankees in the Bronx and all that stuff about The House That Ruth Built and all that. I'm a kid from a town of 4,500 people so, what the hell.

Q. I was just going to ask you, do you have any memory from just before, the hours before your first ever playoff game in Pittsburgh?

JIM LEYLAND: I don't really know. I usually look in the mirror to see how I look just before I go out because I know there are going to be introductions; sometimes they show up close on TV and stuff. I don't remember. I do remember going in the bathroom in Pittsburgh and checking myself out. (Laughter.) I didn't look too good there either.

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But anyways, this is something that you have a good time with, but I want everybody to know, this is business. This is very competitive and we make light out of it, we make light of it at these sessions and stuff because we like to have some fun with you guys and with you gals, but this is very serious business and it's very serious business for us.

I think a lot of people for whatever reason, they have this as, you know, the Yankee varsity vs. the scrimmage and the freshman team. I don't feel that way. One thing, I always let my feelings be known so I'm going to tell all of you. Those that said we lucked out and snuck in, I totally disagree with that. We won more games than only three other teams in baseball. That's pretty good. I don't think we have to apologize for being here. Like I said we won more games than any team in baseball and two less games than the New York Yankees. That's not bad.

Q. The stuff that came out from the Detroit Police today about Rogers and the fans after Sunday's game, what do you know about what went on?

JIM LEYLAND: I don't know anything about it. I just heard about it. I'm worried a little bit more about the Yankee assault. (Laughter.)

Q. What you had just said about Yankees varsity against the freshman, do you think your players are stung by that or is that any extra motivation or that's the perception that might be out there?

JIM LEYLAND: I don't think there's any extra motivation. The bad part about playing the Yankees I'm a Yankee fan, and that sounds corny and I want to explain that real quick. You almost wish going into a playoff game really quick that you had something against the team, that you didn't like their players but you had some extra motivation but you don't. How can you not like Derek Jeter? They never show anybody up, they play the game right, I respect what they have done and you almost wish that you had an axe to grind with them, but you don't. They don't show the other team up and they play the game the way it's supposed to be played. I almost wish they would have thrown at somebody during the season or hot dogs but they don't do that. Their manager is a close friend of mine, he's a gentleman, an outstanding manager and there's no motivation there and I wish I could dig something up but I can't. And that is something that worries me a bit, and I talk to the team about that. I wish we had some extra motivation to hate the Yankees but we don't. We respect them and we like them. There are friends of mine, Larry Bowa, Tony Pena played for me; they do things right.

So there's no extra motivation there. I wish there was. But, you know, we are going to play and hopefully we'll play well.

Q. I just wonder if you have your lineup and what's the update on Marcus Thames?

JIM LEYLAND: He's playing and he's DHing and batting eighth. Granderson is leading off, Polanco second, Casey is hitting third, Ordonez hitting fourth, Guillen hitting fifth, Pudge Rodriguez sixth, Monroe seventh, Thames and Brandon Inge at third base and my starting pitcher is Robertson.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.