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Oct. 13 Jim Leyland postgame interview


Q. Jim, after your team took about as amazing a blow as any team can take in the ninth inning, losing a four‑run lead, how do you feel about the way the team responded in extra innings?

JIM LEYLAND:  Well, we talked about this from spring training on, I didn't know we had to take that many, but we have been taking punches all year.  If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch.  We took a right cross in the ninth inning but we survived it.

Q.  We have to wade into the Valverde crisis pretty seriously.  Were you close to pulling him at any point in the ninth?  Can you trust him frankly in the closer role the remainder of the series?

JIM LEYLAND:  First of all, I had Dotel up because there were things I didn't really like.  And the last part of the question I wouldn't discuss.  We are going to discuss this as a staff, and now is not the time to discuss it.  We haven't really made any decisions.  We really want to put our heads together and discuss it first, to be honest with you, and get together as coaching staff and talk about it.  We are certainly going to talk about it, but I don't really have any final information on it yet.  We haven't discussed it.  It will be something we discuss.

Q.  When you got Dotel up, why did you stay with Valverde?  And how close did you come to making a move there?

JIM LEYLAND:  Well, to be honest with you, it's one of those things.  You know, he has been the closer, and he had a rough outing in Oakland, and obviously a rough outing tonight, and that's why we are going to have a discussion.  But Ibañez has had pretty good success off Dotel, not in a lot of at‑bats, but pretty good success.  And thought he might charge a fastball with him as well.  So not really in that situation to be exact.

But like I said, we need to put our heads together as a staff and sit down and talk, and I am sure by my press conference tomorrow, prior to the game, I'll have more information for you.  I am not ducking anything right now, we need to sit down and talk.  There's no question about that.  It is a very legitimate question, but I just don't have an answer for you at this time.  But I will by my pregame press conference tomorrow.

Q.  Jim, usually when you use terms like things you don't like, you usually mean something physical.  Was there something physical you noticed of Valverde that kind of bothered you?

JIM LEYLAND:  Well, I am not trying to avoid these questions.  Like I said, we are going to put our heads together and we'll talk with him.  We will talk with the staff and try to figure out if there is something going on that maybe is being camouflaged, maybe is, maybe isn't.  And I don't want to get carried away at this press conference until I have more information.  And like I said, everybody will be cleared up for everybody by the time I come in here before the game tomorrow.

Q.  Jim, I realize were you in the middle of a winning rally there in the 12th, what did you think when you saw Jeter get carried off the field there?

JIM LEYLAND:  Well, you know, when you think of postseason, you think of Derek Jeter.  I am the opposing manager, but fortunately over the years I think there has been a tremendous mutual respect, and I am very sorry about it, and very sorry to hear about it.  And, you know, at the proper time I'll talk to Derek.

But like I said, when you think of postseason, you think about Derek Jeter.  So at the proper time I'll talk to him.  I don't want to top somebody or upstage somebody.  He is a Yankee and I am a Tiger.  But at the proper time I'll express my feelings about how I feel about him, and how sorry I am that something like this happened.

Q.  Jim, Alburquerque was warming up.  You stayed with Smyly.  Was that because of left‑handed hitters, how well Smyly was pitching?

JIM LEYLAND:  The last thing, unfortunately with Derek they could not pinch‑hit Chavez, you knew he was going to get a lefty.  Once he got him out, he had a switch‑hitter in Swisher, but another left‑hander in Gardner.  So once he got him out for sure, it was a no‑brainer to let him pitch to Swisher, Gardner was behind.  If Gardner got on, I was bringing in Alburquerque.

Q.  Jim, after Ichiro's leadoff single off Smyly, he went 2‑0 on Cano.  And it looked like Ichiro also had a good jump on that 2‑0 that he fouled off.  How much were you thinking at that point the outcome was hanging in the balance with the match‑up?

JIM LEYLAND:  Well, obviously, you know, you don't feel very comfortable with any of these Yankee hitters in this particular ballpark.  That's what they do to you.  They do to you what they did to us in the ninth inning, they hit the ball out of the ballpark.  Two swings of the bat, really, and the game was tied.

I wasn't very comfortable, but I think you have to be careful that you don't, particularly a young pitcher, you get a veteran pitcher that knows how to play cat and mouse a little bit.  With a young pitcher you want to make sure the attention doesn't get divided to where because you are worried about Ichiro and you don't concentrate on the hitter, you are caught in between.  It is not a really good feeling when most of them come up in this park, let alone Robinson Cano, with a short porch.

And that's the same thing really in the ninth inning, to be honest with you.  If they had a right‑handed hitter behind Ibañez, I probably would have walked him.  But I didn't feel comfortable with Chavez there with all the home runs he's got against right‑handed pitching.  One swing of the bat, a short porch, fly ball and the game it over.

Q.  Smyly, can you talk again about what you saw out of a rookie here in the ALCS moment tonight?

JIM LEYLAND:  It is funny how playoffs work.  Sometimes the weirdest things happen.  If somebody told me that, you know, we'd go a little longer than normal tonight and Drew Smyly would close out the game, I would tell them they are crazy.  That's what postseason baseball is.  For him to sit down in the bullpen and really good possibility that he would be a little rusty, what he did is unbelievable.  But the whole postseason is unbelievable so far.  In all areas.  Washington, the Cardinals, and Oakland and us and the Yankees and Baltimore, and the Giants in Cincinnati.  And Cincinnati needed to win one at home and didn't do it.  It has been a weird postseason, so nothing really surprises me at this point.

Q.  Jim, I don't know if you talked about it at the very start, but Delmon Young now has six postseason home runs the last two years.  What is it about Delmon Young and this ballpark in the postseason do you think?

JIM LEYLAND:  We talked about him being a run‑producer.  And, you know, he came up huge tonight.  And, you know, he's been pretty good on the big stage.  He was, you know, hit quite a few home runs last year in the postseason, and he came up huge tonight.  It is probably a better question for him, I really can't answer it.  But he seems to hit with confidence here for whatever reason.  And, you know, got a huge, huge hit tonight.