Jim Leyland switches up routine to keep Tigers sharp

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, center, laughs with Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, center, laughs with his players during a workout at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Oct. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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SAN FRANCISCO -- No one knows.

That's the bottom line.

But what Tigers manager Jim Leyland does know is what the Tigers did in advance of the 2006 World Series didn't work.

So, he said Tuesday, "we just tried to come up with something."

With his team having five days off before the 2012 World Series starts Wednesday night against the Giants, that something was having the Tigers playing intrasquad scrimmages against minor-leaguers Sunday and Monday at Comerica Park to stay sharp.

"This time, we've done some things to try to keep us from being idle for four or five days," said Leyland, whose team swept the Yankees in the ALCS. "I definitely think it affected the last World Series, but I would never say it had anything to do with who won because that would be disrespectful to the world champs, St. Louis Cardinals. But this time, we tried to do a few things to keep the guys going."

The Tigers in 2006 swept the Athletics and had six days off before emerging rusty and playing one of the sloppiest World Series in memory, performing poorly at the plate and even worse in the field in losing to the Cardinals in five games.

"It was good to get out there and get the blood flowing and see live pitching," said Austin Jackson, a former Yankee who was part of the three-team trade that brought Curtis Granderson to the Bronx before the 2010 season. "That was something good for us. It definitely couldn't hurt."

Delmon Young, who went 6-for-17 with two homers and six RBIs in the ALCS, shrugged when asked if the scrimmages will help.

"We'll find out," he said.

The Tigers appear to have a big edge going in. The sweep allowed Leyland to set up his rotation the way he wanted, starting with ace Justin Verlander going in Game 1.

Verlander did not have a good experience in 2006, going 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals.

"Just being able to take it in a little bit more, having some experience under my belt and having been in situations like this allows me not to be so wide-eyed and be a little calmer and take things in," Verlander said.

Doug Fister will go in Game 2, followed by Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer.

Bruce Bochy's Giants team has lived dangerously all postseason, rallying from a 2-0 deficit against the Reds in the NLDS and a 3-1 hole against the Cardinals. Barry Zito will go in Game 1 for the Giants, followed by Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. Tim Lincecum will work out of the bullpen.

Expectations are for a Verlander victory in Game 1, and the Giants certainly won't panic if that occurs. But falling behind, regardless of how the postseason has gone to this point, isn't preferred, either.

"You play with fire, it's going to burn you," Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "I don't think we necessarily think we want to get behind in this series. I think this team understands what it has to do to win a series when they are behind, but I think we prefer to be up in the series and play from that angle."

Notes & quotes: Phil Coke, who picked up two saves in the ALCS against the Yankees, said it took a little while for him to get used to not being in pinstripes. Coke, a Yankees 26th-round pick in 2002, was part of the Granderson deal. "It was tough to go there in spring training," Coke said of his first visit to Steinbrenner Field in 2010. "The spring training before that, I was on that field on the home side. That was probably the most difficult moment for me." . . . The Giants will be making their 19th World Series appearance, most by a National League team and second all-time behind the Yankees' 40 appearances.

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