A Dartmouth graduate, Ausmus was known as an intelligent player, but the job of major league manager requires more than that. (Harry How / Getty Images)
Detroit — And the candidate of the day is?
C’mon down, Brad Ausmus.
The Tigers’ former catcher became the third managerial candidate for Jim Leyland’s vacant job when he sat down Monday with general manager Dave Dombrowski and his staff — after getting past a formality the previous two candidates didn’t encounter.
Not knowing Dombrowski as well as Lloyd McClendon and Tim Wallach do, Ausmus had to start at Square 1. In other words, there was more of an introductory phase of the interview.
“I’d met him in the past,” Dombrowski told The Detroit News, via email, “but never really got to know him.”
For the most part, though, the process was no doubt the same as it was with McClendon and Wallach.
“It was a good baseball discussion,” Ausmus told The News, via text. “I don’t want to get in depth, but I enjoyed meeting with Dave and his staff.”
Ausmus, a special assistant with the San Diego Padres, became the third of what appears to be a quartet of candidates the Tigers have targeted — the fourth being Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, whose interview could be as soon as today, considering the Tigers have proceeded quickly since coming up with a list.
Former Tigers GM Randy Smith, now a vice president of player development and international scouting with the Padres, spoke highly of both San Diego-based candidates.
“I’m as sure Brad will be an outstanding manager as I was (as general manager of the Padres in 1995) when I hired Bruce Bochy,” Smith said over the phone. “He has a great temperament for it, and will take into any managing job his knowledge of the pitching.
“Wherever he gets an opportunity, I think he’s going to do a great job. He’s one of those guys you could see managing future in when he was a player.”
A Dartmouth graduate, Ausmus was known as an intelligent player, but the job requires more than that.
“Managing isn’t rocket science, it’s people science,” Smith said. “Brad is highly qualified in that regard. He’s excellent in dealing with people, and always has been.”
Of Renteria, Smith said, “Rick has great rapport with players. That’s one of his big assets. He’s been under the radar a little because he managed in the minors, but he’s also managed (Mexico) in the World Baseball Classic and has been our bench coach now for a few years.
“He’s done a lot of different things in baseball and is a guy I’m also sure will be a successful manager in the majors.”
Ausmus was a catcher on the Tigers when Smith was the team’s general manager. In fact, Smith as a GM (beginning with San Diego) traded for Ausmus three times, and also traded him away twice.
Renteria has been in the Padres organization since 2003, beginning as a minor-league coach, managing in the minors, and getting his current role of bench coach in 2011.
Not everyone who’ve said they would welcome being interviewed by the Tigers has been invited to do so, obviously. It’s an attractive job, but so far the Tigers have steered away from the proven likes of Dusty Baker, Ozzie Guillen and Charlie Manuel.
One such former major-league manager also not contacted is Jim Riggleman, who told The News on Monday he’d be “interested in returning to the major leagues (from Triple A Louisville)” and that “I’m sure Dave and his staff are putting together a good list of candidates.”
But, by now, it’s clear the 60-year-old Riggleman is not on it.
As a replacement for the 68-year-old Jim Leyland, the Tigers have interviewed candidates ranging from 44 years old (Ausmus) to 56 (Wallach). McClendon is 54, and Renteria is 51.
Tony Paul and Lynn Henning contributed to this report