BOSTON -- The tone of Tigers manager Jim Leyland's voice as he talked with Tigers beat writers Saturday afternoon seemingly reflected at least some uncertainty as to what he can get out of left-hander Phil Coke in the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. The numbers reflected why he was willing to take his chances.
"We didn't know for sure," Leyland said when asked if Coke's return was a surprise. "He went down there [to Florida] along with the other guys [not on the postseason roster] and tried to stay ready.
"With [David] Ortiz and [Stephen] Drew and [Jacoby] Ellsbury, we just felt like it made sense if he's right. He felt good down there and did OK, so he's activated. That's the story for him."
Coke's career numbers against Ortiz (2-for-18, four strikeouts) and Ellsbury (1-for-11, four strikeouts) are solid, though Coke gave up a go-ahead hit to Ortiz earlier this season. Drew, however, is 3-for-5 with a walk against him.
Leyland also pointed out the fact that the pitcher he replaced on the postseason roster, righty Luke Putkonen, didn't pitch at all in the AL Division Series.
"That's what the [roster] rules are for. If you want to adjust, you can make an adjustment," Leyland said. "The only thing is we wanted to make sure [Coke was healthy]. If Coke comes in and then comes up lame right away, then he's not eligible for the next series."
In other words, the Tigers either have to carry the lefty on the roster or they'll lose him for the rest of postseason. By rule, players can be replaced on the postseason roster for injury reasons, but they can't return for the next series.