Oct. 9 Jim Leyland pregame interview
JIM LEYLAND: I really don't know. I don't know what to expect. Sanchez hadn't pitched in a while, either. Scherzer hadn't pitched for a while the other day, pitched okay. You just really never know what to expect, to be honest with you.
Q. Bob Melvin was talking about how he can't save anyone, there might not be a tomorrow for them. With you, do you still manage the way you would any other game?
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, yeah. Somebody was talking about we hadn't announced a pitcher for tomorrow. We announced our pitching a long time ago. Scherzer is supposed to pitch tomorrow and Verlander Game 5. I don't want anybody to think we were putting the cart before the horse, because we didn't. We announced our rotation a long time ago. I don't know why I was asked that question a little earlier, that they thought that was kind of unique we didn't announce it. We announced it a long time ago.
Q. I know you spoke yesterday about all the teams that were playing playoff games in the last week. But how about what the A's did here last week to kind of steal away the Division crown from the Rangers, and how closely were you able to monitor that?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, we watched it as much as we could. I guess we were in Kansas City. We watched it because they started before. And the job they've done all year has been remarkable. They won 94 games. They've had the best record in baseball for a long, long period of time now. It's just -- it's an unbelievable job what's happened here with what Billy Beane and Bob Melvin have done. And once again, not to put the cart before the horse, but I hope that Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin are Co Managers of the Year this year. I think this would be a year there should be two guys get the award, I would say this would be the year.
Q. You talk about Scherzer, how is he feeling, and if he does go tomorrow, what do you anticipate and how long do you think he'll be able to go?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, he feels great. How long he'll be able to go will have something to do with the Oakland hitters. We'll play that by ear. But health wise, he's very healthy. He's a hundred percent. He threw about 75, 80 pitches over in Kansas City. So we'll monitor him close. But I expect him to be full bore, all out and the game will dictate how long he pitches.
Q. You've been in situations where your team has finished a series quickly and you've had a big playoff. And then you've also had some like last year when you beat the Yankees in a heated series, and then went on to play right away. What are the pros and cons of both?
JIM LEYLAND: I think you just have to have the right mindset for anything that comes up. And I think that's what makes good teams. This team is ready to play tonight. They're down two games to none, they're ready to play, their mindset is good.
That's the way you have to handle everything. There's no sense worrying about things you don't control. And the better that you can get that across to your players I think the better everybody is. For an instance, I never worry about rain situations because the good Lord has it rain, it rains. The players say, How long is it going to rain? I think I'm pretty good, but I have no friggin' idea how long it's going to rain. Are they going to pull the tarp at 8:30? I have no idea. Roll with every punch and don't get too excited as a manager. I think when you do it rubs off on your players. So I think you try to take everything in stride the best way you can, and so be it.
Q. You managed a lot of games in a lot of ballparks, worked a lot of ballparks. Do you have any specific memories about this place, either as a place or as a game that you managed here over the years?
JIM LEYLAND: No, not so much. But I know it's loud here. It's very loud. There's obviously a lot of foul territory here. It's very exciting here, like it is in most ballparks. They're going to be out in force tonight supporting their team, which they should be, and they should be very proud of this team, by the way. We know this is not going to be easy to do. It's going to be very loud, very difficult. We're playing a great team, one that has done a wonderful, wonderful job. But that's what we do for a living. We're here, we're supposed to be able to handle that kind of stuff.
Q. We always talk about the unpredictability of postseason baseball. Has this postseason so far seemed even crazier to you than normal, even with your games with the A's so far?
JIM LEYLAND: It's been a little freaky, to be honest with you. And when I say that, I think what's got lost in the shuffle, first of all, is the performances by all four starting pitchers so far. It's been absolutely very, very good. There's no question about that. It's pretty unique that you come in here and you're up two games to none when you've only actually scored one run by way of a hit. That's a little freaky, to be honest with you.
And we're going to have to do better than that if we want to close this thing out at some point, whether it be tonight, tomorrow or the next day. If we're going to close it out, we're going to have to hit better, to be honest with you. That's kind of unique, yes. But it's baseball and you never know how it's going to play out.
Q. You felt so good about Avisail Garcia, you not only include him in your roster, but he's in your daily lineup, and he already has been a factor with that great throw. Can you talk about what's so special with this young kid?
JIM LEYLAND: I'm not going to say there's anything special about him just yet, he's only played a few games in the big leagues. He's probably really not quite ready for this, if you want to know the truth. But why not? He's got talent. This is the lineup we've been using to get through the last couple weeks, two or three weeks of the season.
Our people in the minor leagues, which I always listen to, we needed a right hand hitter, we asked him if they thought he could come up here and do a decent job against left hand pitching. They thought he could, so I'm playing him. Why not? Threw a guy out, maybe the biggest play of the game, if you want to know the truth.
But this is asking a lot of him. But I will tell you this, this will not he will not be here and you'll never hear of him again. He's going to be here for a long time, it's just he's probably not quite ready for this, to be honest with you.
Q. About Benoit and Valverde, you said in Detroit that you seemed troubled that they were sort of described as a potential Achilles' heel to this team. Can you describe why it bothers you that they might be criticized and how much they have to do with the success the Tigers have had the last couple of years?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I mean, they're one of the reasons we're here, if that's what you mean. I'll address Valverde first. When you're 49 for 49, you can't do anything but go downhill a little bit.
Benoit has been terrific. He has given up some home runs, but been a very, very reliable setup guy for the couple of years we've had him. Without question, he's done a great job. He has given up some home runs lately, hasn't been quite as sharp, no question about that.
But they're one of the big stories why we're here. I think what happens is, to a lot of people, they're in the game when it's almost over. If it's the fourth inning, people don't talk about it so much. But when you're talking about six outs to go and those are the guys that are in the game, there's more focus on those type of guys than there are other people. And I think that's what happens. And usually when they're not successful, you normally lose the game. So combine all those things together and with the mentality of your fan, then that's normally what you get.
Q. I've got one more. I'm going two parts. First part, what did you think when you heard that the club was going to acquire Fielder?
JIM LEYLAND: When I heard what? The first thing I thought was that we found a whole bunch of money in a short period of time because we couldn't even sign a relief pitcher for a million dollars about a week before that (laughter). So evidently we sold a lot of Little Caesars in a short period of time. And I'm damn glad we did.
But it was amazing. Our owner goes without saying, I won't say the best, because I guess that's -- but I don't think -- there can't be anyone better. He wants to win. He believes in stars, that's one of his big things, he believes in stars, and I do, too.
So it was a great feeling. I think the conversation I had with Miguel Cabrera explained the kind of person he is. Because he said, If we can get Prince Fielder, I'll move anywhere you want me to move. It worked out really good.
Q. With Fielder there, how big a part do you think that he plays not only in how people combat your offense but in the season that Cabrera had?
JIM LEYLAND: You're talking about Fielder?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think it's unbelievable from this standpoint, Prince Fielder has done a real good job with left hand pitching. And when left hand pitchers pitch around Miguel all the time, Prince has had to hit off a lot of left hand pitchers this year. I feel bad for him, to be honest with you. Because once the game starts, when they take out the starter, Prince very rarely sees a right handed reliever the rest of the game. He sees a lefty. And the job he's done has been unbelievable.
So I think that his production -- it's not just his presence. Look at his production, it's pretty darned good. He's got a lot of home runs and a lot of RBIs, and that's what we expected. He's a better hitter than I thought he was, to be honest with you, all around. He's a good hitter, he's not just a power hitter, he's a good hitter. And much more athletic than I thought he would be. It's worked out great for us and thank God for Mr. Ilitch.
Q. His impact on Cabrera?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't know what to say about Cabrera's season, because I've never seen anything like this in 49 years of baseball. And to be a manager, that's certainly quite an honor. But I had the pleasure of seeing it every night. Some teams see it when you come in to play them, they see him. And when you go play another team, they see him. But I had the pleasure of seeing it on a nightly basis, and it was unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it.