TIGERS MANAGER JIM LEYLAND
October 15, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Workout Day
Q. Miguel not only had the home run last night, but that deep drive to center. Was that a positive sign for you moving forward? Did he look healthier to you? JIM LEYLAND: I think he's better. But I've been saying this for quite a while now, he's not going to be a hundred percent the rest of the season and hopefully we've got a lot of season left. But I do think there are days when he's a little bit better. And I think last night he was better.
Q. Can you just talk about Victor Martinez and what does he bring on and off the field to the Tigers? JIM LEYLAND: Well, he's an excellent hitter. There's no question about that. He's a great competitor. He's one of those type hitters that can get a big hit off a good pitcher with two strikes. He's swinging the bat really well right now. He's huge in our clubhouse, although everybody ?? the local people know I'm not a big clubhouse guy. But he's a fierce competitor, great teammate. But most importantly he knocks in big runs. He's just a terrific offensive player.
Q. You faced two clubs now, Oakland and Boston, who like to work the counts and grind out the at?bats. Do you want your pitchers doing any different when they see teams like this? JIM LEYLAND: No, I think so far, I think our pitchers have done a terrific job. It's pretty simple. Our starting pitchers ?? Scherzer was lights out. One night the bullpen was meticulous and the next night it wasn't quite so good. That pretty much sums it up. I think our pitching has done a terrific job so far.
Q. Through 7 games I assume you want more production from your one and two hitters. Have you talked about, would you change it or just do something different in that regard? JIM LEYLAND: Well, that's a legitimate question. Obviously they've been struggling a little bit. I don't know where you go at this point in time, this time of the year. You play somebody else, I don't think that's the answer. How to adjust or tinker with your lineup, I don't really know who I would lead off in that case or who I would hit second. Those guys have been good all year for us, and I think we just have to continue to go that way and hope they'll come out of it. I think they're both trying a little too hard. There's no tricks this time of year. I think I am going to play Dirks tomorrow night, he's been away from it a little bit and maybe relaxed a little bit and probably play him in leftfield tomorrow night. But I won't hit him top of the order, probably down. I'll probably stick with Jackson, Hunter up at the top. They're two guys that have been good for us all year. I don't see any reason to change now.
Q. When you have a first?year closer blow a save of that magnitude, are you concerned about how he'll bounce back or handle it? JIM LEYLAND: No, not at all. No, I think that, first of all, it was a tough save. In reality I've been asking a lot out of him, probably a little too much in a couple of situations. Last night I made a mistake that I take full responsibility for. I should have just reminded him that we didn't want Ortiz to really beat us. He tried to make a great pitch. He tried to get it low and away out of the strike zone, but he didn't get it there. We were going to try to get him to swing at a ball if we could. And I should have reminded him about that and I did not. We talked before the series about that, David is one of those guys that he's been born for those magic moments, we know that. We were trying to avoid that and Benny tried to make the pitch, he just didn't get it there. He just didn't execute the pitch.
Q. Along those lines, are you a believer that there is such a thing as a clutch player, a clutch hitter? JIM LEYLAND: Sure. Yeah. I think there's guys that ?? there's guys that seem to thrive on those moments. But I think in the postseason play, including World Series, I think sometimes it's the clutch guy you didn't really expect to be the clutch guy. It's one of the littler guys. It's not always the big name or the big guy. Sometimes it's a littler guy, a less known guy, but just a hard?nosed, tough player. One of the big hits of the game was Pedroia last night. We had Victorino. Pedroia grinds it out pretty good, too. David is going to get all the credit, and he should, don't get me wrong, but there were some stuff leading up to that. It was obvious that I was trying to milk every out I could get to get three outs before we got to Ortiz, and we just didn't get that done.
Q. Obviously Benoit has been good for you this year, moving into that closer role. But how would you assess his performance in the postseason so far? He's pitched a little bit of traffic there. JIM LEYLAND: He's doing fine. He's doing fine. It's just not that easy. When you're in postseason, that's why these teams are in postseason, it gets a little bit tougher. In the one postseason game he struck out the last out in the last inning. I made a mistake by not reminding him, if you end up walking him, it's okay. But like he said, he attacks the hitters. He tried to attack him with a ball that was going to be out of the strike zone and it was one of those change?ups that didn't go down and away, it just stayed there.
Q. What do you attribute that's clicked for Justin in postseason? JIM LEYLAND: He's been pretty dominant in the season, as well. In his last several games he gave up two runs or less in the last several games. The record is not 19 and 7, so people think maybe he hasn't been as good. He's pitched well for a long time now and in the postseason he seemed to step it up. Our guys have been very good postseason pitching, as well as during the season. We pitched very well. Scherzer was lights out, Verlander in Game 5 over Oakland was terrific. Justin is a competitor. And he gets locked in, it's going to be another good matchup. Good pitching on both sides.
Q. Sticking with Justin, last night's loss, the way it went down could be one of those that has a carryover. Is there a better tonic for your team than having Verlander on the mound tomorrow night here? JIM LEYLAND: I don't look for any carryover. I didn't see any carryover with the Boston Red Sox yesterday. They lost a 1?0 game they probably should have run the first game. They didn't have any carryover. I don't think we'll have any carryover. It's always nice to have Justin Verlander on the mound no what the situation it. There won't be any carryover for our guys for that game last night. That's over with. We probably should have won that game last night, we probably should have lost the first one. We're probably exactly where we're supposed to be.
Q. What part does Alex Avila play in your pitching and how well your pitching has been in this series and through the whole postseason? JIM LEYLAND: He's done a tremendous job. He's been here a while now and our pitchers have a good rapport with him. I think he's had some terrific games, including last night. He's done a terrific job for us, and his bat has been a lot livelier lately, which is a big plus for us. Anytime you extend your lineup. He's got a real good feel for each pitcher. And I think that's an important thing. He knows that you can't go about getting a hitter out with Verlander maybe the way you do Fister. And he figures that out pretty good.
Q. What's your ideal plan for Phil Coke? You didn't use him yesterday because he hasn't pitched for a while. Would you like to get him in earlier in the game and build confidence? JIM LEYLAND: I'd like to get him out there not such a huge pressure situation after being away for so long. I'd like it to be maybe in the sixth inning with a lead or if you're behind a couple of runs, get his feet wet. He's pitched one inning in Instructional League for I don't know how long. I'd like to get him in a game where it's not quite as significant or a pressure situation so much. For instance, like last night. And Benoit is our guy against righties and lefties. That's just the way it is.
Q. You mentioned that you were going with Dirks in leftfield. Have you made a decision on shortstop for tomorrow? JIM LEYLAND: Peralta will play short.
Q. Just back to Alex's approach at the plate. He swung at the first pitch on his first three at?bats and had good swings. Is that something you like to see from him? JIM LEYLAND: I like that a lot. I like him to be aggressive. He can hit a ball out to outfield and he obviously smoked one last night. I like the aggressive approach. I think it's beneficial to him. And right now he's swinging the bat pretty good.