Jim Leyland sat atop the news conference stage, stone-faced and unapologetic.
A night to sleep on it had not altered his senses or his strategy, and the "telegram" he received Thursday from an anonymous college professor, instructing him to use Justin Verlander in ALDS Game 5, had drawn only a snicker from the Detroit manager because of its absurdity.
"This will explain why you think I'm so old and grumpy and messed up," Leyland began his afternoon news conference. "I won't tell you the university, because I don't want the place to empty out tomorrow, but I will tell you I am supposed to pitch [closer Jose] Valverde the first five innings tonight, then I'm supposed to pitch Verlander the last three -- quote, "the seventh and eighth." So that's where we're at. Are there any questions?"
Leyland then added, "There's no secrets here, I'm not going to pitch Justin Verlander. You can argue till the cows come home, I'm not going to do it."
Leyland cited the 120 pitches Verlander threw in the Tigers' 5-3 Game 3 win and that the righthander topped 100 mph as late as the eighth inning as a reason not to use him in Game 5.
But Leyland couldn't help but play a prank on Verlander hours before Game 5. The pitcher walked up to Leyland a short time after throwing a bullpen session and said, "I can't believe you're not pitching me tonight," according to the manager.
"He goes, 'What do you mean you threw a bullpen? I told Jeff [Jones, the pitching coach] not to let you throw; you might get in the game,' " Verlander recounted. "I was like, 'What!' He just laughed and took off."
"I finally got one over on Justin Verlander," an amused Leyland said.
And his pitcher concurred.
"He got me," Verlander said with a smile.