Ausmus hopes to fine-tune Tigers’ baserunning

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Arlington, Texas — Manager Brad Ausmus was waiting when Anthony Gose got back to the dugout after he stole third base and scored in the sixth inning Monday.

It was an aggressive play to steal third with one out and it worked out, but Ausmus wanted Gose to understand fully it was a high-risk play and he was fortunate to get away with it.

“He really didn’t get a good jump,” Ausmus said. “A good throw and he’s probably out, so in that sense, he was fortunate. I talked to him that, at times if you don’t get a good jump, stop. You don’t have to go. You can’t force your way into a stolen base.

“He understands, but you do have to learn it. And it’s not just Anthony. At times guys are so set on going, they just go. And if you take off and the pitcher slide-steps, you’ve got to stop.”

This is among the points of emphasis Ausmus will bring to spring training in February. The Tigers have run the bases poorly this season.

They’ve been caught stealing 48 times, with 82 stolen bases — a pedestrian 63-percent success rate. They’ve had 26 runners picked off. And, they’ve made 51 outs on the bases, including 25 at home.

“Yeah, there are a few things we are going to do in spring training that we haven’t done before,” Ausmus said. “When I got here two years ago, baserunning was a big stressed point for me. But there will be some things covered in spring training that we haven’t covered the last two spring trainings.”

Ausmus said he has taken for granted that players understood basic fundamentals of baserunning. He’s taking nothing for granted now.

“Little things you assume, maybe wrongly so, that they know, like how you take a secondary lead, we’re going to cover it,” he said. “Even if it sounds like basics to them. If it sounds like basics to 75 percent, there’s still 25 percent that needs to know.”

Understanding risk-reward, as with Gose, is the primary goal.

“The things we need to cover this year is more relative to recognition of the ball off the bat,” Ausmus said. “A guy on first being able to recognize the ball off the bat so that his first move is in the right direction — even if the first move is to freeze.”

Ausmus believes Gose is going to be a good base stealer, and said he’s made strides this season. But he’s been able to steal bases on raw speed alone all through the minor leagues, he’s never had to think about situation and a pitcher’s time to home plate.

“There are some guys who need to have a better understanding of when is it time to risk stealing a base,” he said. “When is the risk worth it and when does the risk go down.”

Around the horn

Designated hitter Victor Martinez said his left quadriceps was still sore Tuesday, but he expects to play at least two more games this season. He said the quad has bothered him since he came off the disabled list.

... Ausmus said he is isn’t shutting down reliever Alex Wilson, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll pitch much the rest of the way. “I just think Alex is running on fumes,” he said. “He will still pitch, but I will be selective when we pitch him.”

... Dallas native Tyler Collins hit a three-run homer Monday. Ausmus started another Texan, catcher Bryan Holaday, on Tuesday. Holaday was born in Dallas and attended Texas Christian.