Oct. 19 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Oct. 19 Jim Leyland pregame interview

Q. You often talk about seeing kind of a fire in Justin's eyes on a game day when he's getting ready to pitch a big game like 5 in Oakland. Talk about Max and his demeanor, and his big game ability.

JIM LEYLAND: He's pretty much the same all the time. Most pitches are very regimented, they all have something they do prior to getting ready. Max will be ready tonight. Determination and ready to go. We'll see how it works.

Q. Anything new on Alex Avila? Can he go today?

JIM LEYLAND: He will play. He will play.

Q. Any other lineup changes for you tonight?

JIM LEYLAND: No.

Q. Will you have to say anything to your team before Game 6, are you going to say anything before the game?

JIM LEYLAND: No. I don't really do that so much. I might say something to the players individually, but I don't really have a meeting or anything. We're a long way into the season now. They know what's at stake here, and they know if we want to move on we've got to win tonight.

There's no special speeches or anything, just enjoy it and leave it on the field and see what happens.

Q. Have you, throughout the course of you managing so many years, have you figured out how to handle elimination games or is it any different? Did you used to handle it one way and now differently?

JIM LEYLAND: No, I don't do anything different. We just had an elimination game last week with Oakland. If we didn't win we were eliminated. So we've got three Game 5's in the LDS, the last three times we were there. We were fortunate enough to win them.

No, there's no secret to this. You've got your team. They've got their team. You're going to play a game. You don't want to downplay it, obviously it's a huge game. But it's another baseball game with a lot of significance.

Q. When an accomplished slugger like Prince Fielder is struggling like he is and the crowds have gotten on him, do you sort of leave him alone, leave him alone and assume he'll work his way out of it or is there anything you can do?

JIM LEYLAND: First of all, people say work your way out of it, you know, it's almost like saying this is April or May. We don't have much time right now. Time is not on anybody's side right now that is struggling. But Prince Fielder is not the only guy in the National League playoffs or the American League playoffs that's struggled. We've got a lot of guys struggling. The Dodger Cardinal game, they weren't that impressive. There are a lot of batting averages that aren't real good right now.

He's a high profile guy, so that sticks out a little more. I think Mac continues to work with him. We saw a little bit in the -- maybe the foot getting down a little bit quicker. But I don't know if that's the answer, I truly don't know if that's the answer.

But really, normally you don't get guys straightened out with two games to go or hopefully six or seven more games to go. You can keep working at it, and you're always working on something. But to say that you can snap your fingers and everybody will break out of it, it doesn't work that way.

I just remind everybody, look at all the averages of all the players. A lot of good players. And I'm not trying to sidetrack this away from Prince at all, but there's a lot of guys that haven't hit this postseason. One of the best players in baseball, Beltran was struggling a bit in that series over there until last night and came on good.

Who knows, it can happen anytime, and that's what I continue to say about Prince. Anytime he's in the batter's box, I feel like something big can happen at any time. So far it hasn't happened.

Q. Did you talk to Alex and get an indication of how he feels with that knee and where it stands?

JIM LEYLAND: I have talked to him. I got on the plane with him yesterday. I just left him in the trainer's room ten minutes ago. He's ready to go. He feels pretty good. I don't think that will be any kind of a drawback where you're going -- the main thing from a manager's standpoint the one thing you don't want to happen is when you're dealing with an injury -- and I think Alex is fine now -- the one thing you don't want to happen is start the game and take him out in the second or third inning. That's one thing I try to guard against as a manager. If you can't go, that's fine; but if you can go, you want to be out for the entire game, if possible.

Q. Can you talk about Uehara, and what does he mean to the Red Sox in this postseason?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, I mean, I think that's already documented what he's done. It's been unbelievable. He's been absolutely fantastic, you know. I don't know. I was reading a lot of the articles today about when they signed him, they probably in their own mind didn't anticipate this was going to happen. But sometimes it does. And they caught lightning in a bottle. He's been absolutely terrific, there's no question about that. And obviously his significance right now is probably as important as anybody they've got on their team.

Q. There hasn't been a ton of talk during the series about Cabrera. But how much of a comfort is it to you to just be able to put his name in the lineup every single day and know exactly what you're getting?

JIM LEYLAND: He obviously has been playing this entire season -- or series, excuse me, and quite a while now really in quite a bit of discomfort. It's a shame because it has handicapped him in some ways, obviously. You just don't feel good and you're hurting. It's tough.

But my hat goes off to him to what he's going through and going out there for us and he knows we need him in there and he's really risen to the occasion in every way possible, in my opinion. He can't do some of the things that he normally can do. I think that's realistic. We're not trying to hide anything. I think that's pretty obvious to the naked eye when you watch him. You know he can't do exactly what he can do under most circumstances. But he's out there. We're glad he's out there.

Like I say, we're going to do our best to win this game tonight and try to force a Game 7.

Q. Just wondering, would somebody like Doug Fister be available in relief tonight, could you or would you go that way?

JIM LEYLAND: Yes, he could be, but I probably won't go that way. Probably more available tomorrow night if we are able to extend it tonight. I don't know really how this is going to play out. If we need long reliefs tonight we're in trouble. I mean, unless it was just Max had to go out because something wasn't feeling good or something. If we need long relief tonight we're probably in trouble, because we've got a Cy Young candidate pitching for us, a guy that's great all year for us, and if you have to take him out in the third or fourth inning, we're probably in a little bit of trouble.

Q. Back to Cabrera for a second. You mentioned how he was dealing with some things. As a manager, how do you manage that? Are you looking for things out of him or do you have to be kind of aware of what he might be going through? The Dodgers had a little more severe case with Hanley. Cabrera doesn't seem to be quite that bad. How much of a challenge is it for you?

JIM LEYLAND: It kind of breaks your heart, to be honest with you, to see him out there the way he has to be out there and the way he is right now because you know he's hurting. He's tough as nails. I have so much respect for him. Everybody is conscientious these days about people earning their money. You talk about somebody who is earning their money, this guy feels like he owes it to the Detroit Tigers and our fans to be out there, he owes it to the team.

He's out there, he's doing the best he can. It breaks your heart as a manager. It's really a shame, to be honest with you, for the whole baseball world because they're not getting a chance to see him at his best. This time of year, people are turning on the TV, they love to see these guys. Obviously I think he's the best player in the League. To not be able to see him at his best because of a physical ailment, it hurts a little bit, but that's just the way it is, and you live with those things.