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Numbers don't sway Tigers' Brad Ausmus

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Jupiter, Fla. — James McCann was hitting .400 going into the game Monday. Bryan Holaday was hitting .154. Clearly, McCann has a huge edge in that battle for the backup catcher role, right?

Not to manager Brad Ausmus, at least not based on those statistics.

"I don't really look at numbers as much as I look at swings and what they are doing in the field," he said. "I'll glance at them, but I don't get swayed by numbers in spring training. They mean almost nothing."

Too many variables go into spring training statistics, things like if hitters are facing veteran pitchers who are just getting in work or building arm strength, or minor league pitchers late in games.

"I've seen many a player have a great spring and the season starts and he's almost like a different guy," Ausmus said. "It happens too often. The energy is different (in spring training), the adrenalin is different. Pitchers aren't ready. It's just not the same.

"I know people like to spin it like whoever hits better is going to make the team. But I think that's a bad way to make a decision, basing it on spring training stats."

Amplifying Ausmus' point, Tyler Collins batting average going into play Monday was .231. His at-bats have been more impressive than that might indicate. His on-base percentage is .355 (five walks) and he's had a lot of hard-hit balls get caught.

"It's if the player is having good swings, if they are playing their position well," Ausmus said on what he's looking for. "Ultimately it comes down to who we think will help us win."