Oct. 26 Alex Avila & Austin Jackson pregame interview
Q. For both guys: this lineup has been more effective against right handed pitching than left handed pitching this year. Why do you think that is, and does that give some reason maybe for confidence that you guys will have a little more luck scoring runs here?
AUSTIN JACKSON: Well, I don't know the reasoning behind it, but you've got to give credit to their pitching the first two games. We've got a good lineup. We've been swinging the bats, just haven't really got anything to fall for us. That's the main thing. We do a good job of getting guys out there, haven't been able to get that big hit when we needed it.
ALEX AVILA: I mean, sometimes you just can't explain it. Sometimes throughout a course of the season, a pitcher is going to have your number. In our case we've had trouble all year with left handed pitching, which is strange because we have a lot of good hitters on the team. But it's one of those things that in baseball you just can't really explain. Obviously we feel good about going into tomorrow's game. Our backs are against the wall, so we have to win. It's a one game at a time, and it'll be a nice change obviously to face a right hander because we've had more success, but either way, we're still going to have to beat one of those lefties eventually.
Q. Alex, this is for you: It's supposed to be cold tomorrow, what can cold temperatures, how can that impact what you and your pitchers are trying to do? And what's your best cold weather anecdote from playing here in Detroit?
ALEX AVILA: Well, I mean, playing in cold weather, I don't think any baseball player is a stranger to it. More than half the teams have to play at the beginning of the season in cold weather, and obviously in the postseason. Unless you're in a dome, it's going to be somewhat cold. That's just the way it is. You can't control the weather. Sometimes it can be difficult for a pitcher to have a grip on a ball on certain pitches and to have a good feel because of the weather. But again, it's just something that I've got to deal with. A lot of times it helps when a pitcher blows in his hand, kind of get that moisture, which the umpires allow to happen now. For some guys it may be more difficult, but it's just something you've got to deal with. As far as a funny story about cold weather, I guess I don't really have any funny stories recently, at least in my memory right now.
Q. This is for both of you: After one of the games in the ALCS Joe Girardi talked about, we know what the Tigers' pitching are doing to us, we have to make the adjustments. Now the roles are reversed. Do you see adjustments that could be made the way they're pitching to you guys?
ALEX AVILA: Well, right now their pitchers haven't made many mistakes. Hitters hit mistakes, that's the bottom line. When you have opportunities with the guys on base, you've got to be able to take advantage of them. To this point in two games we haven't. That's really it. There's nothing more to it. There's no magical scheme that you can just flick a switch or change something, and all of a sudden you score nine runs. It's just a matter of having good at bats when you have those opportunities, and you get those mistakes not to miss them, basically. You know, their guys have just done a good job of limiting their mistakes, and we haven't capitalized on the situations that we've had as far as to drive in runs. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
AUSTIN JACKSON: I mean, I think Alex summed it up pretty well right there. The opportunities that we have, to get runners in, they made great plays a couple times the past two games. Blanco has made some tough plays in left field that possibly could change the game. You know, I think that, like I said, the opportunities that we have had, we just couldn't get that big hit to fall for us.
Q. For both of you: you guys have had your backs against the wall at other points this season especially. What are some of the things Jim Leyland does to help everybody keep an even keel, not get too high or too low? And how important has that been to your season?
ALEX AVILA: Well, I don't think Skip is not the one that's going to hold a meeting or a big speech or anything like that. He's not that type of manager. The thing about Skip, he's extremely honest, and as players you appreciate that type of honesty. He treats us like professionals and grown men, knowing that we all want to get the job done. Sometimes you can't, but you've just got to continue to play the next day. That's basically how our season has gone. We've struggled at times throughout the year, like you've talked about, and we've been able to just to play one game at a time. You continue to play your game, and to be honest with you, you just prepare, play hard, you're going to win some and you lose some. And as long as you can basically walk off the field knowing you gave it everything you have, I think he understands that's what we're trying to do, and basically it's the same situation going into the postseason.
Q. For both you guys: I don't want to read too much into how differently you guys are dressed right now, but on workout days, do you like to come in and hit particularly when you come in from the West Coast and get in early in the morning, would you rather have the day off?
AUSTIN JACKSON: I mean, I think it's optional for most guys. At this point in the season, I mean, you've taken so many swings, you've thrown so many pitches that you're ready. There's nothing that you're going to do at this point that's going to lock you in if you're not already locked in. I think most guys sometimes like to come in maybe and just take a few swings. Some guys would rather take the day off just to rest the body a little bit. It definitely was a long flight. Guys choose to do different things, and like I said, at this point in the season, you're locked in already. It's the World Series.
ALEX AVILA: We got in at 6:00, 7:00 in the morning, so we're pretty exhausted.
Q. This is for both of you guys: On a cold, raw day in April, for instance, is it helpful to keep your bats warm? And if so, how do you go about doing that? I've seen players in the dugout next to those heaters kind of stick them in there or around there. Do you guys do anything like that?
AUSTIN JACKSON: I think that the stick or the batting tar on the bat, it helps to kind of put the bat close to the heater to kind of warm it up. It kind of melts the tar or whatever. But as far as keeping the bats warm, I don't think you can do that.
ALEX AVILA: I don't know if there's any you're going to hit better if you have a cold or warm bat. At times with the cold weather what will happen is it will freeze the pine tar, and make it a little harder to grip the bat, so you want that obviously to be a little bit warmer when you're applying it. But I have no idea if a warm bat hits better than a cold bat.
Q. On a colder day would you like store them farther down the runway rather than in the bat rack in the dugout?
ALEX AVILA: No.
Q. This place has been such a home field advantage for you, is it really a factor? Do you really draw off the crowd? How does that work as a player to play at home as opposed to playing on the road? Some people like it when everyone is against them.
ALEX AVILA: I think one of the best things why teams play better at home is just you're comfortable. You get to sleep in your own bed, and you're just a little more familiar with your surroundings, a little bit easier to go through your routine. I mean, that's probably the biggest thing, being able to go through your routine, being comfortable allows you to have confidence. It definitely helps when people are not yelling that you suck. The thing is playing here, it's a lot of fun playing here. Obviously when we're going well, obviously when we have those big innings and the crowd gets into it and stuff like that, it's a great feeling. Like I said, it's all about comfort, really, and guys when they're comfortable normally tend to play better. On the road, though, sometimes it allows you to get away from all the distractions. The one thing about coming here is obviously we're going to have a lot more family and people a lot more distractions, but at the same time I'd rather be here than flying anywhere else to play a game, that's for sure.
Q. The fans in Detroit are just salivating for Game 3 tomorrow. What do you embrace and what do you enjoy, either one of you, the most about playing at home, playing in front of your fans, feeling the energy? What is it about playing in the World Series at home that will be so special?
AUSTIN JACKSON: Well, I think a lot of guys that have never been in this position before, I mean, the World Series, just feeling that excitement when you go out there. You're looking all over the field and you're seeing "2012 World Series" and the fans are going crazy. You know, just the atmosphere. It's an unbelievable atmosphere. You feed off that, that fan energy. You feed off that, and it's just unbelievable when you go out there and you can feel that the fans are with you. You know, it's hard to explain, but you just feed off that energy.
ALEX AVILA: Well, there's a lot of players that never get to experience a World Series, getting to play in a World Series, and there's a lot of fans, too, that don't get to experience going to a World Series and having that type of atmosphere, and a chance to see your team win at the highest level. I mean, they deserve it as much as we do, just the fact to be able to enjoy what the series brings.
Q. For both guys: Having ten foreign born players, mostly from the Dominican and Venezuela, how does it change the atmosphere in the clubhouse and communication on the field?
ALEX AVILA: It doesn't really change communication on the field much. Baseball lingo is baseball lingo. Guys know what to do, and as far as signals and just key words, things like that. I would say probably the biggest difference in the clubhouse is you'll probably hear a lot more Latin music.
AUSTIN JACKSON: Yeah (smiling).
Q. Alex, you've talked about and Anibal has talked about the learning process you two went through to get to know each other. Talk about what the process was to kind of earn his trust and to have him trust the way to calling a game, and how would you compare it to the learning process you and Verlander went through obviously when you were a little younger?
ALEX AVILA: Well, I think the biggest way to earn a pitcher's trust is just to have good games with him, be back there, and go through those seven, eight, nine inning games when you're giving up no runs or one run. Really with him, it was just a matter of, okay, knowing that he's the type of guy that has confidence in all his pitches, that he can throw it at any time in the count for strikes. A lot of times with certain guys, I can't do that. If we're behind, I've got to go to a certain pitch; if we're ahead, I've got to go to a certain pitch with some guys. With him that's not the case, and obviously that took some getting used to, knowing what pitches he felt most comfortable with. And he also was learning the way I would set up and call pitches and go through things like that, as well. Not to mention also him learning the American League hitters. But the biggest way to earn the trust is just to have good games. I think that's how I was able to get the trust from Verlander and a lot of our other pitchers as far as just being back there, knowing that they know that I've done everything that I can to help them win the game, and my job back there, that's what I have to do. I've got to know the hitters inside and out, what their tendencies are, what their adjustments may be, and be able to adjust to that. When I'm able to do that and work with them and you put together a good game like that, there's no better feeling, and I think pitchers can really feed off a catcher that they know can do that and work that hard back there.