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Notes: Leyland readies team for Series

Notes: Leyland readies team for Series

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DETROIT -- Before Tigers manager Jim Leyland could tell his players to try to keep their calm in the midst of the biggest stage in baseball, he had to make sure his nerves were cool, too.

He has been on this stage before. But there are some things about the World Series that even he can't prepare for. Handing out the lineup card at home plate with Cardinals manager and close friend Tony La Russa would be one of those moments.

"I think you try to block that out as much as you can," Leyland said. "It's wonderful, obviously, but I'm sure Tony would tell you the same thing: When you go to home plate with the lineup card for the World Series, it's special, no matter who the opponent is. But I think you have to zero in on what this is all about, what you're trying to do."

Keeping himself at the right emotional level is tough enough. His main goal, however, is to keep his players at the balance.

"You don't want to get so low-key that you're not into it," he warned, "but you don't want to get so carried away that you're into it too much. It's kind of a tough combination. You don't want to take away the emotion, that's for sure. I mean, if it's one of the two, you don't want them too laid-back. So if they're a little overly hyped-up, then that's probably natural. And I think it's best to let it be that rather than to get them not hyped-up enough."

As Tigers players took the field for batting practice Saturday, they generally seemed to be taking the attention in stride, even as everything around them looked somewhat chaotic.

Sean Casey caught a movie with his wife Saturday night, trying not to think about the enormity of it all. It helped, but once he woke up Saturday, it really hit him.

"I woke up a little early this morning and just kind of laid in bed and looked at the ceiling a little bit and thought about it," Casey said. "It's pretty awesome. You play your whole career trying to get here. To be here is kind of a dream come true."

Curtis Granderson was up late talking with friends about it before sleeping in a little bit Saturday morning. He could sense the difference when he drove to the ballpark and had to show his ID to get through so many road blocks.

"I stepped into the [indoor] batting cage," Granderson said, "and I could hear everybody. I wasn't really sure what to expect. It's going to be interesting. There's a lot more excitement building up and up. It's going to be like a roller coaster. I'm still on the bottom. I just got on the ride and I'm probably going to get to the top when they announce my name."

As soon he has a ball hit to him, he figured, he'll settle down. Many of his teammates figured they'd be the same way.

"Once all that stuff gets out of the way, I'll be able to enjoy what's going on," Todd Jones said. "After the third or fourth inning, it's time to go to work and start thinking about getting these hitters out."

Casey at the bat: Casey was just about a lifetime National League first baseman when he was dealt to the Tigers at the July 31 trade deadline. His first meeting with the Senior Circuit since crossing over, ironically, came at designated hitter.

Leyland followed through with his idea of using Casey at DH for at least Game 1, keeping his once-ailing left calf out of the field a little longer. Casey said he feels close to 100 percent, but Leyland decided not to risk reinjury just yet.

"It's probably precautionary," he said.

Leyland wouldn't say yet whether he'd do it again Sunday for Game 2, but he's sure Casey will be ready to play first base when the series shifts to St. Louis and the Tigers lose the DH spot.

As for what lingering effect the injury might have on his legs, Casey smiled.

"I'm pretty slow," he said, "so I'm probably really slow now."

Pitching to Pujols: The Tigers advanced this far in part by containing the big sluggers that stood in their way, from the Yankees' All-Star bats to Oakland's Frank Thomas. None of them, of course, can compare to Albert Pujols, the giant in the Cardinals lineup.

"There's nobody in the league that can match up with Pujols, I don't think," Jones said. "You're past all that, being nervous about who you're facing and stuff like that. You just have to concentrate on making pitches."

If there was any case that would call for an unconventional approach, that might be it. Leyland hinted they probably wouldn't go so far as to intentionally walk him with nobody on base, but left everything else in play.

"We're going to play it by ear," Leyland said. "There'll be situations I probably should look at. I'm not so sure about nobody on base or stuff, no outs. I'm not sure I'd do it then, but I don't know when I will. It just depends on what you feel. There's a pretty good player hitting behind him [in Jim Edmonds]."

Miller makes it, sort of: Andrew Miller won't be pitching in the World Series, of course, but he won't be going home, either. Miller said Saturday he'll be allowed to watch the game from the dugout and travel with the club to St. Louis, much like the Tigers have treated Mike Maroth and Chris Shelton all postseason.

"I'm going to enjoy it," he said. "I get the best seat in the house."

Leyland admitted before the game that Miller's chances of making the World Series roster hinged on the Tigers facing the Mets. Since that didn't happen, the Tigers left their roster unchanged, even though they added the 21-year-old to the travel contingent.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["world_series" ] }
{"content":["world_series" ] }
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