Oct. 18 Jim Leyland off day interview
Q. I'm just asking about Alex Avila, have you been able to make a decision on how he's going to be used tomorrow or is that a decision you'll make before Saturday?
JIM LEYLAND: No, we just have to wait and see how he is tomorrow. He was on the plane today, we got on the plane about the exact same time, walked up together. And he's a little sore, but we'll have to just wait and see tomorrow how it is.
Q. What have you seen from Prince's at bats, and what would it mean to the lineup to get him going a little bit?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's had some good at bats. He's had some quick at bats, as well, where he puts the ball in play and hasn't quite centered it where he wants to. He's just trying to hit the ball hard. When he gets it hard and in the air obviously you do some damage with it. But he just hasn't been able to do that a lot yet, although he's hit some balls pretty good.
But that's real important for us, no question about it. Just like anything else, sometimes you focus on one guy or two guys, and in reality we've got a few guys that we've got to get going, if we want to move on.
Q. Outside of Avila, have you set the lineup for tomorrow?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I have not. It will be a big factor, whether he plays or not, it will obviously affect us some. I don't think there will be anything tricky. It will pretty much be using what we've used the last couple of days, depending on Alex's health. I don't look for any major changes or anything, any major surprises.
Q. I know you mentioned yesterday that you might be leaning towards before the game that you'd be leanin
g towards using Iglesias on Game 6. I wonder if after the game you had decided anything on whether he would be at shortstop tomorrow night?
JIM LEYLAND: He will be, that's correct. He will be at short.
Q. Is there a specific rule of hand of how you handle a guy like Cabrera, Martinez or Fielder when they're on second and you have a single like that that goes to left? Are there hard and fast rules or is it up to Brookens depending on how the play develops?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, it's always judging by your third base coach. But it's like anything else, I think some people were insinuating that I kind of blamed Brookens. I don't really blame Brookens, I think what happened in last night's case is what I was saying was if Miguel Cabrera were a hundred percent, Tom Brookens stopped him in plenty of time. But where I think he possibly made the mistake was, he probably knew right off the bat when the ball was hit because of Miggy's condition he could not score. So I was saying maybe he shouldn't have been waving as long as he was.
If he was normal, then he stopped him in plenty of time, there's no question about that. I heard some people commenting on that on the television. But under the circumstances he probably shouldn't have waved as long, because he knows that Miguel at this particular time he had no chance really to make it, probably under most circumstances.
Now, as I said last night in my news conference, once in a while in a lot of cases you'll do that because you don't want to stop too soon because the left fielder bobbles the ball or something. But in Miguel's case it's pretty much one base at a time right now.
So I thought that was the only thing that could have been done different, not that I was upset with anybody. I'm certainly not throwing Tommy Brookens under the bus, because he shouldn't be.
It's pretty simple when you've got guys on second base that can run they're going to be in an area around the third base bag where you have an opportunity to send those guys, and other guys aren't going to be to that point just yet. There's no special sign for them. When guys don't run good, this is the thing we talk about all the time, they have a tendency to think they're going one base at a time, so subsequently they don't run all out. But our guys do that. But some of our guys aren't that fast.
There's no special sign or no special signal. Tommy held him up in plenty of time under normal circumstances, but circumstances aren't normal. That's the point I was trying to make last night, that we pretty much know right now with Miggy's condition that it's one base at a time.
Q. You left Avila in right away yesterday. Was it something that you saw that convinced you to take him out maybe on that wild pitch or did you see something else that prompted you to get him out of there?
JIM LEYLAND: No, the wild pitch had nothing to do with it. The wild pitch, nobody could have stopped that ball. The fact that we took him out was because the knee was throbbing, the pain wasn't any worse one inning after the next, but it was throbbing pretty good. He also got smoked in the mask as you saw.
And what we were trying to do is in talking to Kevin and talking to Alex, like I say, it was throbbing pretty good, he was kind of favoring it. It had nothing to do with the wild pitch. We just felt like in this situation we need to see, hopefully we can have him ready for the game back in Boston. Whether we're going to have that or not, I don't really know.
But it was obvious that he was hurting pretty good. He said he could stay in, but actually I made the decision, you know what, this doesn't make sense, let's see if we can get him ready and get him as fresh as possible for the next game.
Q. What kind of luxury has it been for you to have a guy like Brayan Pena and what he's been able to do and step in with a big hit yesterday?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's done a terrific job. That's why we signed him in the offseason, we think that was a good sign, a switch hitting catcher. He's probably a better hitter left handed, and Alex, of course, is left handed. That was a little bit strange. He's a good hitter. I think he showed that last night. He got a big hit right away to help get us back in the ballgame. And we're thrilled to have him, he's done a terrific job.
Q. You mentioned the foul ball that Alex took off the mask. What was your level of concern over that when you first saw the impact of that?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, it was a good one. There's no question about it. He got smoked pretty good and because of the previous issues that he'd had, I was also a little concerned about that. But the trainers checked him out. There did not appear to be any issues, but it does ring your bell a little bit, obviously.
The main reason he was taken out of the game obviously was because of his knee, very, very sore, throbbing constantly. Not any worse pain right after it happened, but it wasn't any better, either, just continued to throb. So the foul ball actually had nothing to do with it, but I thought the combination of that and with the history of what he had and also more importantly the knee was it was smart to get him out of there, I tried to get him ready for tomorrow night's game.
Q. Was there any sense in talking with Kevin or Alex that the heavier mask that Alex has been wearing for the last two months made a difference in keeping the impact from being any worse?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't really know the answer to that. I think it is better, I don't think there's any question about that. I think it's a little bit better. You know, he hasn't been getting hit quite as much since he has had that on, I don't know the reason for that.
The one he took last night was really a shot. I was talking to Don Zimmer and he said he really took a shot. I don't see it live, head on like he did. It's one of those things, it's part of the trade of being a catcher. Those are the things that happen. The shot he took off the bat and the shot he took at home plate with Ross was pretty tough.
Q. I was just wondering with Alex being day to day and with Miggy's injury making it hard for him on the base paths and defensively, has there been any consideration for maybe having Victor catch?
JIM LEYLAND: That's a great question. Really a very, very good question. That has been thought about, yes. But I don't want to particularly this time of year with the significance of everything and then so much media, once you mention something like that, it's all over the wires that Martinez might catch. That's not true. I hope nobody starts writing that, because it's not true. But it would be an option, let me put it that way. It would be an option.
You could DH Miggy and catch Victor and then obviously play Santiago or Donny Kelly at third, I don't think that's going to happen. But it would be an option if Alex were not able to play.
Q. Going back to Prince Fielder, with his struggles at the plate as of late do you leave him alone like a field goal kicker or is he spending a little time with Lloyd and Toby?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he always spends time with Lloyd and Toby. He's in the cage all the time prior to going out there. And so they're always down there working, the workout, whatever, working on whatever it is they think may help him a little bit.
But sometimes you're just not doing anything wrong, sometimes you're just not getting to the ball or you're hitting the ball and not having any luck. Other times you're I think he's been a little bit of both. He's hit the ball well sometimes, but probably not often enough.
I think the biggest thing right now that is happening, I think, is that, you know, when you think of Prince Fielder, and I'm talking about Little Leaguers that watch Major League Baseball, fans that watch Major League Baseball, players from other teams that watch the games, fans that watch the games, whatever, when they think of Prince Fielder, they obviously think about a power hitting guy. He's been a Home Run Derby champion many times. Hit many, many home runs in his career so far. I know what he's capable of doing.
Nobody is asking Prince to hit home runs. I just I've always said as long as he produces runs, which he's done ever since he's been here. But the average person thinks of him as a home run guy. When you don't have a home run or in this particular case, they start to focus more on that, because that's how they think of him when you mention Prince Fielder. He won the Home Run Derby, if you're talking to some Little Leaguer, that's what they relate to. That's why it gets more attention than maybe you really want it to.
Q. Because Austin Jackson has had some hits the last couple of days, any thought of putting him back in the lead off spot?
JIM LEYLAND: No, Austin Jackson will hit in the 8 hole tomorrow. Some people, for whatever I think some people have taken it way out of proportion. Some people are making fun of it. They want to take a shot at me.
I'm not saying other than the fact that Austin's own omission he's relaxed some, by his admission. It has nothing to do with what we did. And I will say that since we have moved him, for whatever reason, call it whatever you want, he's been on base six times.
So is there something to it? It's nothing strategically from my part, but something good has happened because of it. And I think that that's why the move was made to try to relax him a little bit. And whether it's coincidental or it worked, I don't know. But like I said, he's been on base six times and he hit the double play ball real hard last night. He'll stay where he's at for now.
Q. Talk about Jose in the bullpen and the job that they've done in these five games so far.
JIM LEYLAND: I think pretty darn good. I think they've done a pretty good job. Obviously the one game was a little bit tough, but I think overall the bullpen has done a very good job of keeping us in there, a very good job last night. They did a terrific job in Game 1, obviously not so terrific in Game 2. But overall I think they've done a pretty good job.
The Red Sox had four pretty quick runs last night and didn't get anymore. And I think the bullpen, I think we've taken a little bit of beating with our bullpen because we, for whatever reason, people seem to slight our bullpen a little bit. It's not a perfect bullpen by any means. But it's done a very good job in this series, and overall I'm very pleased with it.
Q. Talk about Veras specifically.
JIM LEYLAND: Oh, Veras? He did an excellent job last night. He did an excellent job the other night. Him and Alburquerque, if I'd have gone an inning earlier I would have used Porcello, I had him up earlier in the game when Sanchez was struggling a little bit. But once we got late in the game we changed and went to Veras, and he's done a very, very good.
Overall they have. Alburquerque came out and walked a guy, which is a no no, but he did get out of it. And overall I think they've done okay. Coke got Ortiz out once and gave up a hit to Ellsbury once. And then got him out last night.
I think we are what we are. And Smyly has done a very good job. Somebody says, well, I hear some of the comments on TV and it appears that maybe some people aren't watching the game. Somebody said, well, Smyly can get a right hander out, too. Well, we left him in the other night, he got Gomes out. So he did get Napoli out. It wasn't like Smyly is just a one left handed guy and not face any righties, you do at that time Napoli was 0 for 7 on him with four strikeouts. We do leave guys in if we do think that's our best option.
Q. Just a follow up on that earlier question. Obviously Avila is the one you want to have in there. But if he's not able to go, what factors go into that decision of whether you catch Pena or possibly Victor?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, this is the problem, see, we're getting started already. And I tried to stop that when you first asked the question, and now you want more. I have no idea what's going to happen. I hope Alex is going to catch. My answer to you was that would be an option. And that decision will be way down the road yet within the next 12, 14 hours. So I'm not going to get into that because the lines are going to light up now, so that's what we're trying to avoid. We'll make that decision.