Detroit Tigers hire Brad Ausmus as manager
When Brad Ausmus was a player – which wasn’t that long ago – the
mental aspect of the game always came pretty easily.
”I always enjoyed the cerebral part,” Ausmus said. ”It was
much more difficult to hit – that was the part of the game I didn’t
Perhaps it was inevitable that Ausmus would become a manager,
and he’ll have that chance now. The Detroit Tigers hired the
44-year-old former catcher to replace Jim Leyland at the helm of
the three-time defending AL Central champions. Ausmus has little
managerial experience, and the Tigers will entrust him with a
talented roster that is expected to keep right on winning.
”I’m well aware that you don’t generally get dropped into a
situation like I will be this coming season,” Ausmus said. ”I
understand I’m very fortunate. That being said, I’m not taking
anything for granted. No details will be glossed over. I’m not
assuming anything going into the job.”
Ausmus, who worked in the San Diego Padres’ front office as a
special assistant to the general manager, emerged as Detroit’s pick
less than two weeks after Leyland stepped down. He takes over a
team that has reached the AL championship series three straight
years and should be well positioned for another big season in
The Tigers lost to Boston this year in the ALCS.
”We’re not going to re-invent the wheel here. This is a pretty
darn good team,” Ausmus said. ”I think I would be foolish to come
here and try to make sweeping changes.”
Ausmus managed Israel’s team for the World Baseball Classic, but
he’s inexperienced as a manager compared to some other potential
candidates. Ausmus played in the majors from 1993-2010.
The Tigers also interviewed Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and
Los Angeles Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach – as well as
Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. Detroit general manager Dave
Dombrowski said he’d planned to interview former Cincinnati Reds
star Barry Larkin, but Larkin decided not to interview because he
wasn’t in a position to make the time commitment necessary for the
If continuity was Detroit’s main concern, McClendon may have
been the choice, but the Tigers acted a bit more boldly in hiring
the Dartmouth-educated Ausmus, whose name also recently surfaced in
connection with the Chicago Cubs’ job.
”When we interviewed, we were – not just me – taken back at how
impressive he was,” Dombrowski said. ”It really became quite
clear for us, that he would do an outstanding job for us. It was
probably not where I started, but it’s where we ended, and we feel
very good about that.”
There will be one important holdover on Detroit’s coaching
staff. Leyland’s bench coach, Gene Lamont, will remain in that
role. Ausmus agreed to a three-year deal with a club option for
2017. Lamont agreed to a two-year deal.
Ausmus is 24 years younger than the man he’s replacing, and he
inherits a roster with a high payroll and several big names,
including Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. He’ll have a chance
to win right away, and he’ll have to deal with high
”Anybody you hire has some risk attached to it,” Dombrowski
said. ”Even a veteran manager that you bring in with a new club,
where they are in their life, there’s risk attached to that.”
The contrasts with the 68-year-old Leyland are obvious, and
Ausmus will have to prove he can guide this star-studded team
through the inevitable rough patches – but it wasn’t long ago that
Ausmus was on the other side of that player-manager relationship.
He played in 1,971 games with four different teams. He played for
the Tigers for part of the 1996 season, and again from
”I’ve got to be me,” Ausmus said. ”Jim Leyland – great, Hall
of Fame manager. I’m not going to be Jim Leyland. I would never
make an attempt to be Jim Leyland. I’m going to be who I am.”
Detroit is one of at least three teams with first-time major
league managers who should have a chance to win right away in 2014.
The Washington Nationals hired Matt Williams to replace Davey
Johnson. The Cincinnati Reds, who fired Dusty Baker after a 90-win
season, went with pitching coach Bryan Price as their new
Ausmus is the latest former player to take over a contending
team with little managerial experience. Mike Matheny succeeded Tony
La Russa in St. Louis after the Cardinals won the World Series in
2011, and Matheny reached the NL championship series in 2012 and
won the National League pennant this year.
Former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly is the manager of the
Los Angeles Dodgers, the team the Cardinals beat in the NLCS this
”I was just playing the game three years ago,” Ausmus said.
”I have a pretty good understanding of how the locker room dynamic