Oct. 15 Jim Leyland pregame interview
Q. You have a very veteran team here, and obviously a dramatic loss the other night. Do you have to remind them not to let this beat them twice, so to speak, or are they mature enough you don't have to say anything to them at all about coming back after such an emotional game?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I don't think so. I think, like I said yesterday, the series is probably where it should be. You just turn the page.
They had a day off to rest up a little bit. Had a light workout yesterday. It doesn't work out like that when you're in these playoffs. I think something like that can linger more during the season than the playoff, because the stakes are so big now. We'll be ready to play today.
Q. What was behind starting Andy Dirks in left field today?
JIM LEYLAND: He's struggled a little bit, been off, had time to clear the cobwebs, not getting a lot out of production out of left field unless we played Peralta there. He's done a little bit off Lackey. And thought we'd change it up and run him out there, maybe get something, catch lightning in the bottle. That's the lineup. We'll see how it plays out.
Q. You've talked about Benoit and his even keel demeanor, do you think that's what helped him ease into the closer roll so seamlessly?
JIM LEYLAND: He doesn't get too excited. He's got as good pitch ability as anybody on the team. He's able to read the bat, read the hitter. He knew he was trying to do something, down and away out of the strike zone and threw it a little too hard and left it up. He's a pretty calm guy. Doesn't get too excited. I think that's helped him in the closer role. Some closers they come running out of there all pumped up. And some guys the demeanor is a little different, but he's got a good feel for it.
Q. Did you consider, because he led off when Jackson was hurt, Dirks moved into the lead‑off spot?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I did not.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Fister, who is pitching Wednesday night?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, Fister has obviously done an extremely good job for us, ever since we made the trade with Seattle. He's a little bit different type of guy than what they've seen the first three games and what they're going to see the first three games. He's more of a contact, miss‑hit‑it type pitcher, with an excellent curveball and change‑up, good movement. He's one of those guys that you don't expect the strikeouts, you expect him to put the ball in play a little more, and hopefully miss hit the ball a little bit more.
Q. Two guys in the series, Prince Fielder and Shane Victorino, Victorino led the League in getting hit by pitches this year, Fielder led last years. As a manager, what are your thoughts on that method of getting on base as opposed to the safer ones?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't know that Prince is trying to get hit by any means. I think Victorino doesn't really care if he gets hit. He stands up on top of the plate. So he does get hit a lot.
When you try to throw the ball inside you hit a guy like Shane, because he's so close to the plate. I don't have any problem with that. It is what it is. You play the game and see how it all plays out.
Q. I realize you're most focused on today's game. Can you look at Verlander and the big picture historically and what kind of guys you think he matches up with in baseball history?
JIM LEYLAND: He's obviously a power pitcher with ‑‑ he has three well‑above average pitches, Major League pitches, and one slightly above average. So that's pretty good equipment to go out there with.
He's a focused guy. When he's got that look on his face, you can always tell that he's probably going to go out there and give you a good effort. You can tell a little bit by his demeanor, not all the time, but some of the time.
He'll be up for this challenge today as Lackey will be. Like I say, postseason baseball you're going to see a good pitcher every day. They're going to see a good one today and we're going to see one. He's done very well, his record is misleading. Several games where he gave up two runs or less and got a loss or didn't get a decision. I think you saw Justin Verlander great in Oakland and I expect another great one from him today.
Q. The bullpen obviously, have you had to talk with them a little bit? I know there's a closer and there's a fireman. And one likes to go into situations where there's people on base, another one likes to start off the inning fresh and close out the ballgame. Who is your best fireman on your team?
JIM LEYLAND: I think our best bullpen pitcher obviously is Benoit. I normally like to start the inning with my bullpen guy, rather than come in with guys on base, if I can help it, I always like to give them a little leeway. Everyone is making a big deal about the bullpen. Three days ago they were bragging about the bullpen. Two days ago they were saying the bullpen didn't do their job.
It's pretty simple, I was either wrong twice and it worked out right once, or I was right twice and it worked out wrong once. That's just the way it works.
I don't have any issues with the bullpen at all. They did a fantastic job the one night and the next night they didn't do quite as well. It is what it is. There is no magic. You don't go out and grab another relief pitcher this time of year. I think the bullpen is doing fine.
Benoit is our best pitcher out of the bullpen. He's best suited to close the game. Alburquerque, the guy that probably can come in with guys on base and get a strikeout because he's got a good fastball and nasty slider, once in a while you might be concerned about him walking somebody, which makes it a little bit hairy.
The bullpen is fine. It is what it is. And we'll see how it all plays out.
Q. I can't imagine the pressure of making decisions, real‑time, game time. How much do you rely on your assistant coaches in that immediate moment? How much of it is instinctive or premeditated in that decision process?
JIM LEYLAND: You try to do your homework and set up different situations prior to the game. What are we going to do if this happens, if they pinch‑hit this guy, who is the matchup? You try to prepare yourself for those situations before they start. And when they happen, you know, it's not some kind of a helter‑skelter conversation in the dugout. You try to set yourself up before time for any possible scenario that might come up. Who they're going to pinch‑hit for, track record.
But sometimes postseason gets different. Sometimes managers do something postseason they didn't do during the season, so you can get surprised. You try not to get surprised by anything they do. And you try to be ready to counter that, no matter what they do.
But sometimes it's pretty simple ‑‑ at some point a righty is going to have to get a lefty out, and a lefty is going to have to get a righty out. Because you're not always going to get a perfect matchup. That's just how it works.