Only three other teams in the modern era -- the 1996 Yankees, '95 Braves and '46 Red Sox -- have gone on to the World Series with six days of rest, but what the Tigers will be facing will be a first, because none of those teams faced an opponent that had just one day of rest going into the Fall Classic.
Whoever it is, somebody will be on a bus at Shea Stadium heading toward a plane that's bound for Detroit. When they get here, they'll have to focus on facing a team that has largely been in town since the middle of last week. Manager Jim Leyland has been in enough seven-game series to know that the wait for the deciding game to start can be the toughest part. In this case, it's not just for the teams playing.
"Whoever comes here tomorrow is going to be pumped up," Leyland said, "because they're the National League champions. They're in the World Series. And at this time of year, all teams go on [an] adrenaline [rush]."
The rotation, Leyland said, is set depending on the opponent, and he has already notified the pitchers of their assignments in either case. The rosters, however, isn't certain. Though Leyland said rookie left-hander Andrew Miller could be a roster addition depending on the opponent, he said on Thursday that his decision is "not definite."
Most Tigers pitchers took Thursday off, having already thrown during one of the workouts over the past two days. Thursday's closed-door optional workout was more for the hitters, and "a whole bunch" of them showed up to get in some extra hitting work and fend off as much rust as they could.
Meanwhile, the uncertain opponent will still affect the Tigers from a travel standpoint for next week. Leyland called traveling secretary Bill Brown one of the busiest guys in the ballpark, lining up rooms in St. Louis and New York. One of the cities, Leyland said, was proving to be tougher on that end than the other, and it wasn't hard to figure out which one.
"I feel bad for him," Leyland said. "What he's going through right now is brutal, trust me."
Casey update: Though Sean Casey showed progress working out on Wednesday -- running the steps at Comerica Park on his injured left calf and doing everything but an all-out sprint -- Leyland said he wants to see his first baseman running the bases at full speed on Friday before deciding his status for the World Series.
"I'll have to be convinced tomorrow," Leyland said. "I need to see him run a little bit more before we make that decision. But unless he has a setback, if I was guessing right now, I would say he would probably play. I'm not sure if he'll play or DH. If he's able to go and maybe hit, with the designated hitter, I could give him three extra days [before losing the DH spot for Game 3 at a National League ballpark]."
Casey at DH would provide a roster twist for the Tigers, who spent the American League Championship Series against the A's rotating three different players in that spot in a combination that reached base safely nine times in 16 plate appearances. It would leave Marcus Thames and Alexis Gomez hitting off the bench for the first two games, while Omar Infante would remain a utility infield option. All three of Detroit's reserve infielders -- Infante, Ramon Santiago and Neifi Perez -- have been getting time around the infield this week for potential double-switch options in the middle games of the Series.
Family matters: While the World Series isn't something new for Leyland, it's a different experience for his kids, both of whom were very young when the Marlins won it all in 1997. They're teenagers now, and they have a much greater awareness of what's going on, including the atmosphere.
"Patrick [then six] had a sense of it even back then," Leyland said. "Kellie [then four] didn't even come to Game 7 [in Miami]. She was sleeping. They're all excited. Patrick's real tickled about the games and everything. And there's a chance he's going to get to meet [rapper] Eminem this weekend, so that's going to be the highlight. That's more important than dad right now, I can tell you."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less