Tigers’ mantra: Forget yesterday, win today

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' James McCann congratulates Nick Castellanos after he hits a home run earlier this season.

Washington, D.C. — It was a credo manager Brad Ausmus lived by as a player, and he’s embracing it as the Tigers try to snap out of their six-game funk.

Forget yesterday. (Forget) tomorrow. Win today.

“As frustrating as it can be, these guys still go about their business the right way,” Ausmus said before Monday’s game against the Nationals. “It’s not going to do any good if I’m dragging my lip through the clubhouse. Nothing changes. We go about our business the same way. You come to the park, you have a chance to win that day. Don’t worry about yesterday.”

Ausmus does not believe this team will be defined by the first 30 games. The players do not believe it, either. Neither does general manager Al Avila, who spoke with Ausmus early Monday.

All components of the baseball operations are united and anxious to right the ship.

“The upside is, a lot of our big guns have yet to get hot,” Ausmus said. “And we’re still hovering around .500. ... People can say teams are who they are after 40 games, but I just don’t buy it. I’ve experienced it too much the other way.”

Ausmus played on the 2005 Astros team that started 15-30. The Houston Chronicle ran a cartoon on the front page of the sports section of a tombstone engraved “RIP 2005 Astros.” That team went on to win the National League pennant.

“Fifteen and thirty — that’s 45 games, past a quarter of the season,” Ausmus said. “And we went to the World Series. Look at Kansas City two years ago. They were 49-50. We were nine games ahead of them and ended up one game ahead of them and they went to the World Series.

“You just never know. You get hot. Two years in Houston we were very mediocre, even bad for the first half of the season. Then we were on fire for August and September.”

What was the key to turning those seasons around?

“You look around the room and you say, ‘We’re underachieving,’” he said. “The only way you look at it is today. Go out and play today. Then you win one. You win two out of three, three out of four and all of a sudden you are back to .500.”

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This isn’t the best week for a struggling team to get right. Three games against the 19-12 Nationals and four against the American League East-leading Orioles. Tough duty.

“I think everyone is frustrated because we lost six in a row, but if there is one thing I know about this team, they are a bunch of guys who want to win,” Ausmus said. “This is not a bunch of selfish players. They want to win.”

Used to the heat

Ausmus was asked if he felt his job was on the line.

“I’ve been on the hot seat for a year,” he said. “I get it. When you have a large payroll and the team is supposed to win and you get off to a less-than-stellar start, people are going to start questioning, should they change managers. It’s just the nature of the game.”

He joked, sardonically, that he was starting to get used to the heat in the seat.

“I guess I’m more comfortable,” he said. “I’ve been in this position for a while. It’s a good way to live your life. Keeps you sharp.”

He remains, though, steadfast in his belief in his ability to lead this team.

“Before I was ever hired I told Dave Dombrowski this,” Ausmus said. “I said I will never made a decision because I’m afraid to get second-guessed by the media and I will never make a decision because I’m afraid I will lose my job. I am just not going to do it.

“I played for 18 years. I’ve seen managers make decisions because they were worried what the media would say. No. You make decisions because you think it’s the best decision to help the team win.”

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Ausmus understands

Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked Nationals slugger Bryce Harper six times and hit him once Sunday.

Would Ausmus do the same?

“A lot of times the game dictates whether you walk him or not,” Ausmus said. “He’s maybe the most dangerous hitter in the game right now. If you do pitch to him, you pitch carefully. And if you think he can beat you, you don’t pitch to him at all.”

Around the horn

Right-hander Shane Greene threw on flat ground from 60 feet Monday. It was the first time he’s thrown since splitting the middle finger on his throwing hand open again last Friday.

Ausmus said Greene likely will miss at least another start.

“The skin has to get toughened up,” he said. “He has to get past the point where it’s going to split again before he can get to some type of five-day pitching rotation plan.”

... The Tigers recalled outfielder Tyler Collins and sent right-handed pitcher Buck Farmer to Triple-A Toledo.

Ausmus said the club considered Steven Moya and Cameron Maybin before agreeing on Collins. Maybin would have received the call, but his shoulder was tender the morning after he played the outfield for the first time in a couple weeks in Toledo.

Moya, because he doesn’t play center field, mostly would be used as a pinch hitter. It would be better for him if he continued taking regular at-bats in Toledo.

Twitter: @cmccosky