Ausmus not ready to give Tiger relievers specific roles

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Brad Ausmus looks out from the dugout during Sunday's game against the White Sox.

Detroit – You have to believe him when he says this: If he could, manager Brad Ausmus would love to assign strict and specific roles to each member of his bullpen.

The way things are presently, though, only one reliever has a specific role – closer Joakim Soria.

"I might if we could," Ausmus said when asked if he would ever designate other roles. "I don't know if we have that right now."

The topic came up when he was asked if Bruce Rondon was now the primary eighth-inning set-up man.

"Not really," he said. "We are going to go with who we think is going to get us through the inning, whichever inning we are in."

Rondon pitched a scoreless eighth inning and earned the win against the White Sox Friday. Prior to Rondon's return, Ausmus had used Joba Chamberlain, Blaine Hardy and Alex Wilson in set-up situations.

"You go with who you think can handle the pressure and who has the best chance of getting out the hitters who are coming up," he said. "If we had a bullpen like the Kansas City Royals, we would probably assign roles. Right now, we don't have that."

Gopher balls

That Anibal Sanchez has given up 18 home runs this season, after he had allowed 13 over the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined, continues to baffle.

"I wouldn't have predicted it," Ausmus said. "Suddenly he is giving up home runs but he's not suddenly a different pitcher. It's just certain pitches that he isn't locating, they've hit for home runs. You could go out there and throw the exact same pitches to the same hitters 10 times and they might pop them all up.

"There's a little bit of randomness to it. The point is the location just has to be better because the stuff is there."

That's the one common denominator Ausmus sees – poor location. It's not a specific pitch that's failed him. It's when his pitches get up in the zone, hitters aren't missing them.

"They're in the middle of the plate, maybe slightly elevated and guys are hitting them," Ausmus said. "There's no secret to it. When he's locating them, he's fine."

Lobstein update

Left-handed starter Kyle Lobstein (shoulder) remains in Lakeland and he is still unable to throw.

"Just treatment and rehab," Ausmus said.

He took a cortisone shot earlier this month to alleviate the pain and swelling in the shoulder but, as Ausmus said, "it obviously didn't knock it out."

Lobstein has been on the DL since May 24. Surgery was not in the plans then. Ausmus was asked if that could change.

"All the reports and the MRI say it doesn't look surgical at all," Ausmus said. "That's not to say it never happens where it doesn't look surgical and then you end up having to go in. But I don't think that's ever been on the radar."

Short hops

White Sox manager Robin Ventura moved Jose Abreu up to the second spot in his batting order. Ausmus was asked if he'd ever consider moving Miguel Cabrera to the No. 2 spot.

"No," he said. "There are a lot of theories about where you should hit guys based on how many RBI opportunities there are. According to the numbers, second and fourth are the best RBI opportunity spots. Except those numbers are based on the fact that everyone hits their best hitter third. So it's not as cut and dry as it seems."

... Cabrera tallied his 900th extra-base hit on Friday, which puts him on another impressive list. He is the fifth player in MLB history to record at least 2,200 hits, 400 home runs, 1,400 RBI and 900 extra-base hits by his age-32 season. The others – Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

Twitter @cmccosky