SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been around long enough to know what he likes about baseball and what he can do without.
Daily meetings with the media are not on the top of the 67-year-old’s fun things to do list.
“The hardest part is probably dealing with the media, and I don’t mean that disrespectful,” he told reporters before the Tigers faced the San Francisco Giants in the World Series opener on Wednesday.
“It takes a lot of time. You’re answering a lot of questions. You’re questioned a lot, you’re second‑guessed a lot. The fun part is normally the game.”
As the Tigers prepared to take the field for batting practice, Leyland once again settled into the hot seat fielding questions from the media about his perspective on the designated hitter having managed in both leagues.
He skippered the Florida Marlins to a World Series crown in 1997 and is back in the Fall Classic for the second time leading the American League champion Tigers.
”A lot of people have always talked about it’s much more difficult to manage in the National League,“ he said. ”I don’t agree with that totally because I think in the American League you have to decide exactly when your pitcher is done.
”A lot of times in the National League your decision is made for you because if you get behind in a game, you’ve got to pinch‑hit.
The three-time Manager of the Year said winning the title once merely whetted his appetite for an encore.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who won the title two years ago when San Francisco ousted the Texas Rangers in five games, knows the feeling, assured Leyland.
”Because you’re fortunate to be on a team that won one, that’s why you want another one,“ said Leyland, who has been in Detroit since 2006. ”You realize how good the feeling is and obviously that’s why you’d like to have another one.
“Being part of another world championship would be quite a treat obviously but there’s a lot of games to be played before that happens and I don’t feel any different than Bruce Bochy does.”
Leyland has been managing in the majors since 1986 but said he has seen nothing like the elaborate choreographed handshake between Tigers sluggers Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
”To be honest with you, I don’t pay much attention to that stuff,“ he said. ”They say I‘m old school. I‘m really not. I‘m old, but I‘m not necessarily old school.
“But I don’t really get into that, whether it’s our team or the other team. I kind of don’t really look, to be honest with you. But it’s kind of a new wave of baseball and entertaining to some people. It is what it is.”
Editing by Steve Keating