Leyland, not concerns, keeps Rogers on bench

By Marc Topkin
Published October 28, 2006

ST. LOUIS - Kenny Rogers didn't start Friday's Game 5 for the Tigers because manager Jim Leyland didn't want him to. Not because Rogers was concerned about negative or hostile reaction from the Busch Stadium crowd after the controversy stemming from his Game 2 start.

"Every environment I go to is hostile," Rogers said Friday. "I don't have a problem with that. I didn't ask him the reason. He knows I'll pitch whenever he wants. The last thing I'm going to worry about ... I'm not going to worry about any other distraction. I've been around long enough to understand how to take that."

Leyland was criticized for not starting a full-rested Rogers - who has been the Tigers' hottest postseason pitcher with a 23-inning scoreless streak - with the season on the line, instead saving him for a potential Game 6 tonight in Detroit.

Rogers, 41, who played at Plant City High, said that he had no problem with the decision and that having an extra day of rest wouldn't hurt.

"I don't tell or ask Skip what I'm going to do," Rogers said. "He tells me what to do. I'm not the boss by any means. He's much smarter than I am in all this, so I don't look back and second-guess any of that. He's the best manager I've had, and if he tells me to go play outfield or shortstop, I'm going, no questions."

Leyland said he understood the decision was the subject of considerable media debate.

"I don't have any problem with that," Leyland said. "It's not going to change my mind. My view was I want to pitch him Game 2 and 6. I heard one TV personality say that he thinks the hostile environment would really motivate Kenny, and I don't buy that. I think it would probably work the opposite. I think the environment in Comerica Park motivates Kenny."

SLIP SLIDING AWAY: Curtis Granderson isn't going to let his classic Game 4 slip in centerfield drag him down. Granderson said he didn't fault the wet field or poor conditions and took solace in knowing he didn't really do anything wrong.

"It's pretty much over with," he said before Friday's game. "It's one of those things that happened. It wasn't a mental mistake. It wasn't a game-ending mistake. It was a freakish thing that just happened to happen, and there was nothing really I could have done too much about it."

And he said he was getting a quick history lesson on the similarities with the misstep by St. Louis' Curt Flood in the 1968 Series against Detroit.

MISCELLANY: This was the first Series game played on a Friday since 1984, when, under a different scheduling format, the Tigers and Padres played Game 3 in Detroit. ... The Cardinals' six doubles Thursday were two shy of the Series record shared by the 1906 White Sox and 1925 Pirates. ... The Cardinals' 83 regular-season wins would be the fewest ever for a Series champ.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com or 727 893-8801.