Well-rested Tigers take on the well-tested GiantsSAN FRANCISCO - Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers found out the hard way that rest means rust in the World Series.
Six years ago, their last Series appearance, they lounged around for nearly a week before getting wiped out by St. Louis.
This time, while once again waiting for the National League opponent to be decided, they stayed busy by working on bunts, playing against their instructional league team and letting ace Justin Verlander throw to hitters.
“Well, we just tried to come up with something,” Leyland said Tuesday. “It wasn’t like in 2006, where some people would indicate we sat around happy to get there, not doing anything, eating bon-bons.”
“That wasn’t the case. We ran into bad weather problems in Detroit, so we were really handicapped,” the manager said. “So this time we’ve done some things to try to keep us from being idle for four or five days. I definitely think it affected the last World Series.”
Verlander will start Game 1 at 9 a.m. this morning, Korea Standard Time, against Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants, fresh off another stirring comeback and a Game 7 win Monday night over the Cardinals.
“I feel like I haven’t played in over two months when you clinch so quick and have to wait for the other team,” Tigers reliever Jose Valverde said.
Not quite that long.
“What is it, eight months of baseball? What’s five days?” Tigers star Prince Fielder asked.
Said Zito: “ I guess we can hypothesize for a while on how prepared they are, being that they haven’t played these high-intensity games.”
The Tigers made it easy on themselves, sweeping the Yankees in the AL championship series. They traveled to San Francisco on Tuesday and held a late-afternoon workout at AT&T Park.
“I loved it because it means we’re in the World Series,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “Someone asked me that question after we won and I was like, ‘Would you rather if we had lost some of those games?’ It doesn’t really matter to me. We did everything we could to stay mentally sharp.”
The Giants had no trouble in that department. They’ve been on quite a wild ride this October, first overcoming an 2-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati in the best-of-five division series, then escaping a 3-1 hole to beat the defending champion Cardinals.