10/24/06 7:02 PM ET
Jim Leyland pregame interview
Tigers manager discusses AL pitchers in NL park
By / MLB.com
JIM LEYLAND:It's just his position by nature. I don't think it's going to be any different. He's obviously been working out there all the time. I don't think that's going to be a factor. I think that's going to be like riding a bike.
It's rare to have a guy who can play
both shortstop and first base. Can you tell us
the advantages you have with that kind of
JIM LEYLAND:He's just an outstanding player. He can play third or second, too, if we needed it. He's just one of those kind of players. I keep telling him all the time I'm grooming him to be a manager, I think he's got great instincts, and I think at some point in his career he'd be able to handle something like that. He's got a great knowledge of the game and a great feel for the way the game is supposed to be played.
Also, Zumaya warmed up the other
day during Game 2. Obviously you had the
excellent performance from Kenny. But how is
his availability? And the other day you said he
could go two, is that still the case?
JIM LEYLAND:He's all right. He's definitely all right. There's no problem with Zumaya. He definitely could pitch two innings. I don't know for sure if I would do that, but he could do that if I wanted him to. He's fine, ready to go. There's absolutely no problem with Zumaya.
Yesterday you said you weren't sure
what you were going to get from Nate
Robertson given the layoff, do you feel the
same way with Bonderman? And how much of
a challenge is it to have this much time off?
JIM LEYLAND:I think it's puzzling, really, because we thought with the rest that Verlander might have too much fastball, that might not be in the strike zone. We were kind of worried about that. As it turned out, the fastball for him wasn't really there that night. I don't know if Nate is going to have a little more fastball. We certainly want him to throw it. So I really don't know what to expect. The time off is definitely a factor, but since day 1 of Spring Training this organization has no excuses anymore. So we'll just leave it at that.
As an American League manager,
what kind of things do you find yourself
thinking about late in the game that you do not
think about in the National League and vice
JIM LEYLAND:Well, No. 1 is if you think you need a double-switch situation. I'm a little bit different. I think their manager does it probably better than anybody I've ever seen. But I think the double switch can be overrated. I think sometimes if you're not careful, particularly young managers, I think they fall in that trap of using the double switch a lot and it makes everybody think this guy is really working, he's changing this, double switching here and double switching there. That's all fine and dandy if it makes sense, but in a lot of cases you really only double switch in a lot of situations if you want to slip a particular player up there, the way the bullpen shapes up. But normally when you double switch it's because you're short of pitching. I don't think their team is going to be short of pitching. And a lot of it depends on who you're double switching with. I think you have to be careful with it, but it's one of the tools that you have in the National League that you don't have in the American League. So it becomes a little more sophisticated, I guess, later in the game.
You've been in the game a long time
and you've seen a lot of labor disputes and
shutdowns and the cost of a World Series. At
6:00 today they're going to announce a new
labor deal for five years, what does it mean for
the game to have this extended period of labor
JIM LEYLAND:I think the game is booming. I think you're seeing that. I know it's booming in Detroit this summer and Minnesota and places all over the country. I think the game is very healthy right now and I've always said and I always will, whatever is good -- I don't get involved in those agreements. I know nothing really about them other than what I read. Whatever is good for baseball is good for Jim Leyland. If everybody is happy with that, I think it's tremendous.
I think at the end of the regular
season I remember there was a rough start for
Jeremy in the last game of the regular season.
How much more confident are you when you
send Jeremy to the mound now after these last
two playoff performances?
JIM LEYLAND:I feel good about all our pitchers. And it's not something you're going to change at this point. They've gotten us to this point and we're not going to change anything. I have total confidence that we have good pitchers. I'm sure Tony feels very confident in his pitchers. Are they both going to pitch a good game tonight or is one going to pitch a good game and one is not? Nobody knows the answer to that. I have all the confidence in the world in our staff. They brought us to the World Series. So if I'm worried about that now, I've got problems. So I'm not worried about it. I am concerned a little bit, as I said, because I just don't think you know quite what to expect when they have had a long layoff. But once again, we're not looking for excuses, but realistically I'm not sure. Nate's thrown a couple of times on the side. Jeremy has done the same thing. We did simulate some games last week, but not with those guys. I'm really not sure what to expect, but I have total confidence in our pitching.
Oftentimes the AL team seems to be
at a disadvantage in the World Series when
they move to the NL city because they lose a
big bat. That seems to be less the case with
you. It seems like it doesn't have as much an
impact because your team is not as reliant on
the DH, is that accurate?
JIM LEYLAND:Well, I don't know about that. I think one of the biggest advantages right now that swings in the favor of the National League team is that I know the team we're playing, and I know how much effort and concentration they put on their pitchers hitting and bunting in Spring Training and all year long. I would like to have started this in July, but I think it might have rubbed the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins a little wrong to think we're already bunting in July and going to the World Series. We couldn't do those things. I think I am concerned about that. If you look at this team, Carpenter handles the bat very well, the guy tomorrow night has already hit one home run in the postseason. It's a little bit of an advantage, but I think it's something you don't really continue to talk about too much with your players because I think it puts a negative there, and I'm certainly trying to stay away from that. But do they get a little advantage there? Sure, they do.
Just a follow-up on the answer you
gave a minute ago about the state of the game,
how it's booming: You've been in and out of it
over the last couple of years, different
perspectives. If you had to say why is the
game the way it is, why is it booming in so
JIM LEYLAND:Well, I think, No. 1, I think baseball, there's so much parity in baseball today. Everybody thought that was going to work out strictly for the NFL or possibly the NBA, and I think it's worked out more for baseball. You're seeing a different representative in the World Series from the National League for something like the last eight or nine years. Maybe the same team did it, but they didn't do it two years in a row. The Detroit Tigers haven't been here since '84. Minnesota Twins won the division. Oakland won the division. There are great stories. Toronto made a little run. You know Boston and the Yankees are going to be there. There are more teams involved. Thank God for the wild card. I was kind of bullheaded and old school at first, and fortunately we had that wild card because in 1997 we won the World Series. And if we were to have to pull it off again, it would be the same scenario. I think there's so many more teams involved in the end, you know, if you look at our division, Chicago and us, and Minnesota right down to the wire, there weren't too many blowouts. It's been great. And the National League, I don't know how many teams with ten days to go were still in the hunt. It's exciting for the fans. I just think it's been great for the game.
What were you able to pick up in
kind of walking around looking at the ballpark
yesterday? Did you watch any video of games
to see how the ball caroms or did you pick up
that when you were a scout for the Cards?
JIM LEYLAND:I think we just worked out. You're not going to find out all the little details about a ballpark in one workout session, one hour and a half workout session. It was nice to get out there yesterday. The wind was blowing and it was cold. The ball wasn't carrying near -- the dimensions are smaller, but the ball wasn't carrying there as well as it did in our ballpark. I don't know how the wind will blow tonight or what will happen tonight, but it's a little bit different. It's gorgeous, and it's obviously one of the great baseball cities of all time. So you're going to see a lot of red here tonight, we know that.
As a guy that's been in the game for
a long time, how have you seen the
relationship between players and the owners
and management sort of change over the
years? It looks like there's going to be a new
CBA extended, no labor issues, have you seen
it get better, that you can tell?
JIM LEYLAND:I think you always have a better relationship when both sides are making money. That kind of always seems to work out in the end, doesn't it, for whatever reason, when the owner's happy and putting a little in his pocket, and the player is happy and putting a little in his pocket. In our case, I guess in our game, a lot in both pockets. That usually has a tendency to make people feel real good.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.