It was a little rough, to be honest with you. But probably the best long flight we've ever had, obviously, for the right reasons. A little tired. A little worn out. But we'll be fine by tomorrow. We'll recoup, had a little workout today and go about our business.
Q. Last year you had Quintin Berry in your lineup, now John Farrell has him.
JIM LEYLAND: It's perfect for us. And I guess that pretty much sums it up. He never got thrown out. I saw him the other night steal a big base. It's a weapon, it really is. It's a nice weapon to have, and he's really good at it. He normally doesn't get thrown out.
The reason he's good is because he's one of those guys that can steal the base when everybody in the ballpark knows he's going to go, and he can still steal the base. That's what I call a legitimate base stealer. A lot of guys can sneak one once in a while. But when everybody in the park knows he's going to go and he still goes and makes it, that's a legitimate base stealer.
Q. In this season, how much is the way that last season ended been a fueling factor for your guys?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I think that's a normal thing to say. I'm not really sure that's been a motivational factor. We always start the season with the idea that we're trying to get to postseason. And then it becomes a crap shoot. I think it reads good that we had a bitter taste.
I will say this, we were embarrassed last year in the World Series. When you lose four straight is not good. So we were embarrassed a little bit. We'd like to stretch it out a little bit.
I think there is some incentive there. But I think a lot of times that's just a normal thing to say, really, sometimes.
But I think in our case last year we got swept. And we didn't even get to six games or five games. And that was a little bit embarrassing. But I think every year is a new year. You start over. You start fresh. And there's certainly no guarantees, even though a lot of people said that if we don't make the playoff it's a total bust. You find out it's just not that easy.
So we're back. And like I said in Oakland yesterday, we were just trying to get to the Final Four. It's almost like the basketball tournament. We're in the Final Four. And we'll see what happens.
Q. What has Torii Hunter meant to this team this year, not just what he's done on the field, but having a guy that's never been to the World Series and with his experience?
JIM LEYLAND: I'm a field guy. I like what he's done on the field and extra things, the clubhouse and all that, that's all bonus. But to me he's been so important because he's been a very good player for us. He's knocked in big runs, he's gotten on base, he's played well in the outfield. He's a tough player. He's one of the toughest players I've ever managed.
So to me it's what he's done on the field and then in the clubhouse and stuff like that it's a bonus. But the clubhouse stuff normally is not real significant with me, because I found out over the year when you win you normally have a good clubhouse. And when you don't, you don't have such a good clubhouse. I'm not a big buyer into that. He's pleasant to be around. He's a great man, he really is, and he's tough. And he seems to have the knack to rise to the occasion on the big stage.
Q. They're really good at stealing bases, the percentage is high, as you know. I'm wondering, are there extra things you guys have to do to combat that?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, if you looked at our last couple of series with Kansas City, who is a real running team, you'll find we did a good job of that. We picked them off about three times. I don't know that we'll be able to get Ellsbury.
That's kind of a Catch 22. I think you actually have to you can't get consumed by that as a pitcher, because then you make too many mistakes with the hitter.
We'll have a plan. We'll try to watch it close. We'll try to contain them. It's not going to be a perfect deal. But you know, I don't know how much that will be a factor. I know they push a little bit more than the Oakland club, to be honest with you. It's a great point, just an extra thing you have to be aware of. We'll be prepared for that.
Q. I wondered if you've decided on rotation. When would Scherzer coming off pitching relief, when is he available?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, my rotation, is that what you want? My rotation is going to be Sanchez, Scherzer, Verlander and Fister, in that order, will be our four guys that will start.
Q. Last year when you guys went on a run you had to do it without Victor Martinez. How much did you miss him and how much has he meant to your lineup this year?
JIM LEYLAND: Obviously we missed him a lot during the season, there's no question about that. He's back in sync, swinging the bat really well.
But technically if you want to get into the postseason, Delmon Young was terrific in postseason. I don't know how much better you can expect somebody to do than what Delmon Young did for us last year in the postseason. But it's just nice to have him back, solidified in our DH spot. We know that's our spot. We know he's going to be there. And he's an excellent hitter, he can get a hit off a good pitcher with two strikes in a big situation. Really thrilled to have him back.
But like I said, I don't know that you could expect somebody to do more than Delmon did in postseason play. He was pretty good.
Q. When a team sees as many pitches and takes the kind of at bats that the Red Sox do, if your pitches are on, does that not matter or can they make it tough for you guys to last deep in the games?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, see, I really don't think that I differ a little bit. I really don't think that taking pitches and working the pitcher has much to do with it. Everybody makes a big deal about that. The Red Sox are terrific at bats. If you throw strikes, taking pitches is a good thing for us. If you take strikes, that's a good thing for us.
My point being the guys that run into trouble, and one of the reasons that the Red Sox are really good, is they foul a lot of pitches off. And that's the problem. It's not taking the pitches, it's that they foul off good pitches. They don't put them in play, you know, they hit them foul. If they put them in play, that's a good thing. They can foul off tough pitches, which extends the pitch count. That's what gets the pitch count up, not working the pitcher.
If you go up and say I'm going to work the pitcher, you take strike 1, you take strike 2, that's a good thing for us. They're so good because they're experienced hitters, veteran hitters, and they can foul tough pitches off, and that's what extends the pitch count. It's not so much working the pitcher, it's the matter that they have the ability to foul pitches off.
Q. Sanchez hasn't got much experience with the Sox lineup. I was wondering if that's beneficial in any way, how you see him navigating the line?
JIM LEYLAND: He led the American League in the earned run average. He did not have a good playoff start. I feel very confident in him. I think he was probably a little rusty, as Fister was the other day, it took him a couple of innings to get going. I think he'll be back in the groove now. Like I said, he led this league in earned run average. That's pretty impressive.
This is the Final Four. They're putting a real good team out there and we're putting a real good team out there. They're putting a real good pitcher out there and we're putting a real good pitcher out there. That's what the Final Four is supposed to be.
Congratulations to the three other teams that got here. It's tough. It's tough to get here, believe me. And now once again it becomes a crap shoot.
Q. What did Jose Iglesias bring to your team since the trade, and how do you see him being used in this series?
JIM LEYLAND: He's a terrific young player, there's no question about that. I think people have a tendency to forget how young he is, it's a pretty big stage. He's a very energetic player, sometimes too energetic with a terrific, terrific future. He runs good. We all know about his defensive ability. I think he's going to be a good hitter at some point. Probably swings too much like a big man right now. But just all kind of talent. And he's been a great addition to us.
Our club really played well with him at shortstop. I made a move last night for obvious reasons to get another over the fence bat in the lineup. He's been terrific for us. He'll get better. He's a very intelligent player, he's a very smart player and we're thrilled to have him.
Q. Following up on the question, what are your shortstop plans for this series?
JIM LEYLAND: At my age I go one day at a time. So Iglesias will be my shortstop tomorrow night.
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