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Oct. 17 Jim Leyland pregame interview

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, Jim.

Q. So many of your players have given you credit for being able to give the players space in the clubhouse, while also obviously clearly being the manager of the team. Where are your influences coming from? How did you deal with that balance?

JIM LEYLAND: I just think that's their space. I think, you know, you kind of try to orchestrate everything, but I think you give the players their space.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, Jim.

Q. So many of your players have given you credit for being able to give the players space in the clubhouse, while also obviously clearly being the manager of the team. Where are your influences coming from? How did you deal with that balance?

JIM LEYLAND: I just think that's their space. I think, you know, you kind of try to orchestrate everything, but I think you give the players their space.

You trust your players. You trust their ability. You trust they will have themselves ready to play. And you try to stay out of the way. I mean, they're the show. That's the way it is supposed to be. So I try to show them that respect. I think it is one of those things where sometimes you have to earn respect, and sometimes you have to lose respect. And so I try to just do my job and not talk too much about it, and hopefully you gain their respect.

I said a lot when you're a manager like I was coming up, I had to earn the players' respect. And when you're another manager that was a Big League player and had a good playing career or something like that, you probably have to lose the players' respect. So there is a little bit of difference.

Q. Jim, as far as this particular series has gone in the postseason, maybe the entire postseason, and the regular season, how hard it was for you guys to win your division and then how hard it's been, even though you're up 3 0, it's been pretty hard. But I was just wondering, in terms of stress, has that been about the most stressful season you remember as a manager?

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I think so, but it is supposed to be. I mean, that's just the way this works. I always said I always got a kick out of when I go home at the end of a baseball season, somebody says: Boy, you look bad. And I always tell them: Well, show me a manager that looks like Paul Newman after 162 games, and I will show you a guy that didn't do a very good job.

Q. As a follow up to that, so essentially as a manager all your life practically, do you look at stress and not part of it, the job, is actually part of the narcotic of the job?

JIM LEYLAND: I definitely think so. That's a great question. I think it goes with the territory, and I think we probably need it. I think that's what makes us tick. You know, a lot of people always talk about managers sitting there at the end of a game, like last night or something, look how calm the manager looks sitting there. You are not calm. Trust me. Your heart is really pumping. If it is not, you should go home.

I think you try to use the stress to your advantage. I think that's what you do. Because it is there. It is supposed to be there. It is going to be there. And you just have to learn how to handle it. And it's not easy, but it is definitely stressful, trust me.

Q. Jim, you're one game away from returning to the World Series for the first time in six years. There's only three guys on your roster that were on that team. Has the transformation been how you thought? Or is it quicker than you thought? You guys kind of rebuilt that team back up.

JIM LEYLAND: We're a little bit different here, to be honest with you. We've always had pretty good foundations and we have an owner that's not afraid to go out and add some players to give you the opportunity, you know, to do something like this if we are fortunate enough to do it. We certainly have a long way to go yet. We have one of the best pitchers in baseball that we have to beat tonight. Nobody is putting any cart before the horse.

But I think the ownership here is really what has turned things around. He has went out and got some stars. Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordoñez, Prince Fielder, trade for Miguel Cabrera, Dave Dombrowski deserves a lot of credit. And the signing of Justin Verlander. It is a combination of a lot of things that I think made this organization pretty good, and I think it really starts with ownership.

Q. Jim, two questions on Delmon Young. One, you've had him about a year and a half now. What have you kind of learned about him as a person, as a player? What makes him tick? And the other part is, in your experience, guys who were those really high draft picks, the number one overall pick and the expectations and pressure put on them, how do you think that has unfolded for him and how it works for other guys?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I'll answer the last part first. I think there is a certain amount of pressure there, but there is a reason they were drafted number one. Obviously the ability is there and the scouts thought the ability was there, and certainly in Delmon's case it has been.

Delmon kind of beats to his own drum. He has a pretty good plan for I kind of stay out of his way. We have a very good relationship, but I kind of stay out of his way because he knows much more about hitting than I do, and he knows what pitchers are trying to do to him. And I respect that. He knows guys that he can hit, and he knows guys he can't hit, and he's up front about it. And he has a real good plan about how to go about it. And, you know, he's done a very, very, very good job for us.

Q. How unusual for a guy at 26 to be in that position where you stay out of his way and he seems to know everything like that?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think it's been a baseball family obviously with Dmitri, so I think there was probably Dmitri is a pretty smart hitter. And Delmon is, too.

Like I said, Delmon has a pretty good idea, and when he stays in the strike zone, he's very, very dangerous. You know, most people that get Delmon out is when he is not swinging good, is when he is swinging at stuff out of the strike zone, which happens to most players.

Q. Jim, without the roster moves early on in the season, and you said at one point that you were surprised that your team could hit average pitching better than they did, and you just said it was your most stressful season. Was there ever a time in the season when you thought maybe this just isn't going to happen, like not win the division or you thought it was maybe worse than it actually was?

JIM LEYLAND: No, I think everybody that's followed us with the Tigers and Detroit would have to say that all year long I said I didn't know if it was going to happen, but all year long I said let's just let it play out, let's just play the 162 and see where we are.

When you're in a passionate town like we're in, and the people have so much passion for baseball, you are going to have to live with a lot of negatives and a lot of positives. You get both of them. You get positives and you get negatives and you have to learn to roll with that punch.

And I was never down on this team at all. You know, I said all year long that we got a good team and at some point we are going to play good, which all teams do, and we have. And right now we are playing good at a pretty important time, and hopefully we can keep it up.

But, no, I never doubted this team. You never know if you are going to win anything. I didn't know if we would win the division for sure. I knew we were capable of winning the division if we play the way we are capable of playing, but the White Sox came back with kind of a surprise year. They were very good. I mean, this was the Chicago team that we beat out in the division was a very good team. I think people got lost in the situation with the Central Division because Minnesota and Kansas City, Kansas City came on kind of strong at the end, but they didn't have very good years, and Cleveland didn't have a real good year, so, you know, I think automatically they thought, well, the Central Division is not very good.

But the White Sox were a tough opponent this year, right till the end. And I believe, if I am correct, that Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox were in first place in the Central Division quite a few more days than the Detroit Tigers were this year.

So it wasn't easy, but here we are. And we're still playing.

Q. Jim, do you have up 3 0, do you have a plan going into tonight as to how aggressively or conservatively you use certain relievers, or is that more by feel as the game goes on?

JIM LEYLAND: I will just manage the game. I think you think of so many things and there's so much stress and tension, and it's good stress and it's good tension, but it's there.

I think that I just remind myself every day: You know what? There are no tricks at this point. Just manage the game. And that's what I have been reminding myself through all of these playoff games. Just manage the game and let it unfold and let the players take care of it. And if you have to make a move, make a move.

But it's just manage the game. I am going to manage this game tonight like I manage any other game. I will do what I think it takes to win it.

Q. Not that you are trying to put the cart before the horse, as you said, but you could potentially face a long layoff before playing a game, and you went through that situation

JIM LEYLAND: I am not going to discuss that. That's putting the cart before the horse.

Q. Just two questions. First, in Tony LaRussa's latest book he said you were one of his biggest influences in terms of how much he relies on you when he was managing. Who are your influences? And, secondly, since you started managing, this game shifted so much towards the general manager. How has that changed what you do over all of these years?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think people forget that I am very fortunate. I have two Major League managers on my staff that I have the utmost respect for. All three of us were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and we all know that story. It hasn't been easy in Pittsburgh. The economics were not good. They could not go out and get players, so automatically I think you know, Gene Lamont won the division with the Chicago White Sox, pretty sharp. And Lloyd McClendon was doing a good job in Pittsburgh, but they just didn't have the resources to go out and get the players.

So I think automatically sometimes when it's hard to have a winning record, then automatically people think, well, that guy was yeah, he managed, but he I'm very blessed. I mean, those are two guys I confide in a lot. Gene Lamont and I have been together we were roommates in 1966. We talk baseball almost every day of our lives. So he has been an excellent sounding board for me and makes suggestions, as well as Lloyd McClendon.

I am blessed with two managers. And I talk to Tony because I worked for him for six years and coached with him for four years. I am fortunate to have been around a lot of good people, and it all boils down to the same thing at the end: Get good players, you have a chance.

Q. It appears the defense has been a full gear better the last couple of weeks or so than it had been. Any explanation at all for that, Jim?

JIM LEYLAND: I really don't. I don't. Things happen, and I wish I could put my finger on it, but I think Peralta, for whatever reason, is moving better. He seems lighter on his feet than he has been all year.

You know what? Maybe there is some type of a better focus that I missed during the year. I can't really swear to that. But maybe the focus is a little bit better. But I don't really have a clear answer for that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jim.