Ausmus era officially underway as Tigers begin spring camp
LAKELAND, Fla. — The sun is shining, the fields are immaculate and Detroit Tigers baseball is officially underway.
Pitchers and catchers took the field for their first official workout Friday morning at Joker Marchant Stadium under the watchful eye of new manager Brad Ausmus.
Ausmus said he planned to address the players briefly but was saving his big speech for when the position players arrived.
"The speeches that stand out are either really good, really bad or really funny," Ausmus said.
Before things started, Ausmus talked about what he wanted to see in workouts.
"I don’t like a lot of standing around," Ausmus said. "I’d rather get in, get your work in, get out than have guys — especially once the position players get here — standing out, shagging, being in the sun all day. I’d rather get it done.
"You’ve got to get your work done. Don’t get me wrong. We won’t cut anything short, but with the number of fields we have, we should be able to have guys moving and working all the time."
Although only pitchers and catchers are required to be here, Ausmus was impressed that so many players had arrived early.
"I know some of them were trying to get out of the cold weather, but I have to go back a long way to find this number of guys that showed up early in camp," Ausmus said. "(Justin) Verlander has been here. He was coming whether he had surgery or not. Miggy’s (Miguel Cabrera) been here five or six days.
"When you have a former MVP winner and current MVP winner who show up early, that sends a good message."
In general, Ausmus said he didn’t expect this spring training to be very different from previous ones under former skipper Jim Leyland.
"I still have Gene Lamont and Jeff Jones, who put a lot of the schedule together, so there’s going to be some similarities to what these guys have seen in the past," Ausmus said. "That makes it a little bit easier transition."
Leyland, who now serves as a special assistant to the Tigers, isn’t scheduled to arrive in Lakeland until Feb. 25. However, Ausmus said he received a text message from Leyland on Thursday wishing him luck, among other things.
Leyland was manager of the Tigers for eight years, so his presence is still felt.
Ausmus said some things will be different, though.
"There’s no smoking in the clubhouse," he said. "I don’t have a mustache. I probably won’t have a mustache at any point."
Ausmus was kidding around, seeming at home in his new role.
His players, on the other hand, have been trying to figure out what to call Ausmus, who is just 44.
Verlander has had only one manager during his career before this and has said that when he thinks "Skip," Leyland comes to mind.
"I personally don’t care what they call me," Ausmus said. "But I’ve had other players ask me, ‘What do you want me to call you?’
"You can call me Brad. A lot of people call me ‘Aus.’ It doesn’t matter. Don’t call me coach Ausmus or manager Ausmus."
In his 18-year career, Ausmus played for several managers. He was asked if there was one he’d like most to emulate.
"I think that you want to win World Series championships," Ausmus said. "In that sense, as a manager, I’d probably say Joe (Torre). Joe’s probably right up there at the top.
"Buddy Bell was a guy. Bud Black in San Diego, although I didn’t play for him, I was around him for three and a half years, watched the way he goes about his business, just the way he runs his camps and his rapport with the players."