DETROIT -- Thirty years ago, Jim Leyland was a young coach with a manager-in-the-making label, coaching third base for Tony La Russa and the White Sox. The Oakland Athletics were a team in transition, having just parted ways with Billy Martin after a 94-loss season in 1982.
They nearly had a match.
"After my first season in the big leagues, I got two Major League interviews," Leyland said. "One was the Texas Rangers. The other was the Oakland Athletics."
The A's flew Leyland out and talked with him about the job. They eventually passed on him in favor of another candidate with deep Tigers roots, Steve Boros.
"They had seven people interviewing me," Leyland said, "one of which was Walt Jocketty."
Jocketty, then a scouting director with the A's, went on to become a general manager with the Cardinals a decade later and hired La Russa.
Jocketty brought in a burned-out Leyland after his year (1999) managing the Rockies and hired him as a special assistant. The role, which kept Leyland in the game from 2000-05 while staying home in Pittsburgh, allowed Leyland to recharge his batteries until the Tigers' managerial job opened after the 2005 season.
Boros managed a year and a half with the A's before he was replaced by Jackie Moore. Two years after that, Oakland hired La Russa, who had just been fired by the White Sox. Had the A's hired Leyland, La Russa has been quoted as saying, the job probably wouldn't have opened up for him.
Boros ended his baseball career back with the Tigers as a Minor League field coordinator. His work with the farm system provided some of the foundation for the Tigers team Leyland led to the World Series in his first year in Detroit in 2006, including All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Lefty Coke's struggles alter bullpen usage
DETROIT -- As Brandon Moss' eighth-inning drive soared toward the right-field fence Saturday night, A's manager Bob Melvin thought he had a game-tying home run.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on the other hand, thought it was staying in. He played his bullpen on the idea that a close drive would stay in. He ended up right, albeit barely.
Though Moss had 19 home runs and a four-digit OPS against right-handed pitchers in the regular season, and Joaquin Benoit led American League relievers with 14 homers allowed, Leyland did not think about using lefty Phil Coke in the matchup or at any other point Saturday night. Leyland's worry was that by bringing in Coke to face any left-handed hitter, Melvin would counter with one of the right-handed power hitters on his bench, Jonny Gomes or Chris Carter. And Leyland would be in a bind.
"The ball was carrying pretty good to left, not great to right," Leyland said. "Coke's had a pretty rough time with right-handed hitters. Of course, he might have to get a righty out. If you could pitch around him on purpose, that would be one thing, but he's made some mistakes. Righties have obviously hit him very well all year."
Even without the wind, it's a concern. Right-handed hitters batted .396 against Coke for the season, including 16-for-30 (.533) since the All-Star break.
As long as there's a good right-handed hitter on Oakland's bench, there's a chance Coke will stay in Detroit's bullpen in favor of an effective right-hander like Benoit, Al Alburquerque or Octavio Dotel. The one exception might be Josh Reddick, who probably wouldn't be lifted.
As Leyland put Coke's struggles, "It's kind of mind-boggling, what happened."
Asked if hitters have made adjustments against Coke, Leyland said, "I think it's more than that. I think he's just made bad pitches."
Leyland happy to see Francona managing again
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland considers Terry Francona a friend. Even if Francona had ended up replacing Leyland in Detroit, that would not have changed.
Now that they will be division rivals, it definitely won't change. Leyland was happy to hear that Francona will be managing again in Cleveland, the team that gave Detroit so much trouble for much of the season.
"This is not a shock to me," Leyland said. "I knew it was going to happen. I've talked to Terry. I knew that he wanted to manage.
"He's always been a good guy. I've always liked him. He's always been a friend, a very good friend really, and it'll be nice to see him more often. We have a lot of games in the division."
ALCS tickets go on sale Tuesday
DETROIT -- The Tigers played Sunday not knowing whether they'd have another home game this season with their American League Division Series finishing up in Oakland. The time to secure tickets for a potential AL Championship Series, however, comes Tuesday.
The Tigers announced Sunday that ALCS tickets will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET online at tigers.com or by phone at 866-66-TIGER. No tickets will be available at the Comerica Park box office.
Customers will be limited to six tickets per game.
If the Tigers advance, they'll face the winner of the Yankees-Orioles Division Series. If the O's win, Detroit would hold home-field advantage and open next Saturday and Sunday at Comerica Park, with Games 6-7 in Detroit, if necessary, Oct. 20-21.
A Tigers-Yankees matchup would open in the Bronx before shifting to Detroit for Games 3-5, scheduled for Oct. 16-18.