Oct. 24 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Q. You personally have accomplished so much in your career, lots of accolades. Are you as hungry for this victory, winning this World Series as you were in say '97 with the Marlins?

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, just because you're fortunate to be on a team that won one, I think that's why you want another one. You realize how good the feeling is, and obviously that's why you'd like to have another one, be a part of another world championship would be quite a treat obviously, but there's a lot of games to be played before that happens, and I don't feel any different than Bruce Bochy does. He's got one, too, so it's pretty much the same.

Q. You make a point of checking in with guys on a daily basis, sort of getting a feel for how players are feeling, and I'm curious through the years how your conversations with Verlander have gone before his starts. In other words, in 2006 what the conversation might have been like before a game like this and how that's evolved to now.

JIM LEYLAND: I don't really talk to him, to be honest with you. I won't say anything to him today. He has his own regimen and he goes about his business. I don't want to interrupt that. He has a train of thought. He will have a conversation with our pitching coach and our catcher, but as far as me giving him any advice or saying anything to him, I really don't do that. I just kind of stay out of his way, pitchers and players a lot of guys get ready in different ways. I always respect that. I think they need to get ready the way they like to get ready, and I think it's better if you don't interrupt that.

Q. There's nine Venezuelans in this World Series. You managed in Venezuela yourself and you have managed many Venezuelan players. Could you talk about why you think it has evolved so much, baseball in Venezuela, and why there are so many good players in the majors?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I just think it starts when they're so young over there. That's what they do over there. It seems like if you're a young boy in Venezuela you play baseball; that's what you do. We've been very fortunate, and I think if you look at baseball all around, the Latin countries ARE putting a lot of players in the Major Leagues in this day and age.

We're very fortunate. Certainly we have some very good ones and we have had in the past. Magglio and Guillen were in the World Series in 2006 for us. So I think it's just the country, the kids over there like to play and they're excellent players and a lot of them are excellent athletes, and I think that the influx of the Latin players has been very important for Major League Baseball.

Q. Your team is not generally regarded as one of the elite defensive teams in the majors. Do you feel like you improved as the season went on with the addition of Infante and then especially in the postseason here?

JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, I think so. I think they made a good trade. You never know how trades are going to work on, but you never make a mistake in the trades unless you make some. That's the only way you make mistakes. You can't be afraid to make a trade.

Certainly I'm blessed to be with a general manager who's not afraid to do that, and it's worked out very well. Omar actually has given us a different little dimension. He runs really good, and we're not the fastest team in the world by any means, but he's given us a little extra dimension there, and certainly Sanchez, once he got acclimated to myself, the pitching coach, the players, the new environment, he's been very, very good.

Q. You've done a good job utilizing both Laird and Avila as starters this postseason. Just the decision to go with Avila today, what went into that?

JIM LEYLAND: That's a good question. I knew that's the one I was going to have to answer. This is the reason: I have a good answer for you. I don't know how it's going to work out, but I have a very good answer for you.

I think that, first of all, if I don't play Alex one of these games, he's going to sit for about 10 days. That's one thing. I think the other thing is he's had a very good rapport with Justin Verlander. He's caught him 23 times this year as opposed to nine for Laird. Alex has caught every game in the postseason.

I don't think that the offensive difference would sway you enough to say -- in other words, if Gerald, and I don't mean this as a criticism because Gerald has done a great job. But if you thought you had a real offensive catcher from the right side, you'd probably do that, but I think when the numbers are what they are, I think this is a good time to slip Alex in there. So when I weighed all those factors, I thought this was a good day to play Alex.

Q. Successful managers always credit their players for making them look good, but what's the hardest part of your job in this day and age? You've done this job for a long time and it's probably changed a lot during that time, but what is the hardest part of being a manager for you?

JIM LEYLAND: I think the hardest part is probably dealing with the media, and I don't mean that disrespectful. It takes a lot of time; you're answering a lot of questions. You're questioned a lot, you're second guessed a lot. The fun part is normally the game.

I think the biggest responsibility that any manager has is to make sure his players are ready to play on a daily basis, and if you achieve that as a manager, I think you've done your job. The Xs and Os are what they are. I'm going to manage against one of the best. He handles his bullpen great. They've got three left handers down there. We know one of our lefties is going to have to get a hit off a left hander.

Bruce mixes and matches as good as anybody. So there's Xs and Os, and then there's the other side of it. But I think the main responsibility for a manager is to have his players ready to play each and every day, and if you can do that over a long period of time, normally you've done a pretty good job.

Q. In Oakland before Game 3 you said that you hadn't seen anything like what Cabrera had done in 45, 47 years of managing. Have you seen anything like what Verlander has done the last two years?

JIM LEYLAND: Probably not, to be honest with you. We're blessed. We really have three superstars on our team, and that's one of the reasons that we've been very good, and that's one of the reasons that we've attracted a lot of people to our ballpark, because they draw people.

No, he's obviously been fantastic. He's a great pitcher, and I think he's matured a lot.

I think that has to happen. I always say you can't make a senior out of a freshman, so it takes time. No matter how good you are, it takes time to get acclimated and make adjustments as you go along, and he's made those adjustments pretty good.

Q. You managed a National League team in an American League park in the World Series and now you're managing an American League team in a National League park with National League rules. Is one easier than the other?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, it's different, obviously. There's no question about that. You're dealing with pinch hitting; you're dealing with double switching as opposed to just a DH where you don't do quite as much.

A lot of people have always talked about it's much more difficult to manage in the National League. I don't agree with that totally because I think in the American League you have to decide exactly when your pitcher is done. A lot of times in the National League your decision is made for you because if you get behind in a game, you've got to pinch hit.

It's different. I've obviously managed in both leagues and enjoyed both of them, so we'll see how it plays out.

Q. You've had to make a closer switch during this postseason, and I'm sure that's delicate for a lot of reasons. How did you handle it with Valverde so you would still get the best of him going forward without hurting his ego too much?

JIM LEYLAND: Honesty is the best policy. Tell it like it is.

Q. What do you make of that dance, handshake that Cabrera and Prince do, and can you do it?

JIM LEYLAND: Oh, boy. I was afraid somebody might ask me about that, too. To be honest with you, I don't pay much attention to that stuff. They say I'm old school. I'm really not. I'm old, but I'm not necessarily old school.

But I don't really get into that, whether it's our team or the other team. I kind of don't really look, to be honest with you. But it's kind of a new wave of baseball and entertaining to some people. You know, it is what it is.

Q. With trying to figure out matchups for your relief pitchers late, they've got a run of left handers low in the lineup and potentially a run of right handers high in the lineup for Valverde. How much do you look at those kind of split stats on who pitches well to lefties, who pitches well to righties or does something else come into play?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I look at them, but that's one of the reasons that I'm catching Alex tonight. Gerald has actually hit right handers a lot better than he has lefties this year. We rested Alex some and we went that way because we felt we needed to rest Alex some so Gerald played more against lefties obviously. But you look at the matchups, look at who's hot at the right time. You look at how your guys are throwing; you put it all into play, and then you make your decision. You make your decision based on a lot of information. Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn't.