Detroit — Brad Ausmus got the news about 5:30 p.m., less than two hours before first pitch.
Gene Lamont got the news shortly after that. He would be the interim manager Tuesday night.
“I’ve managed quite a few games,” Lamont said following a 7-2 comeback victory over the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. “I was a little nervous before the game, I’m not gonna lie.”
Lamont has been a fixture in the Tigers dugout for quite some time, on Jim Leyland’s staff since 2006 — and bench coach since 2013, first under Leyland, then the last three seasons under Brad Ausmus.
But, typically, when he’s filling in as manager, it happens during the game, with no time for preparation, following an ejection.
Like, say, Monday night, for instance.
“Usually, Brad leaves me in a bad situation,” Lamont said, smirking. “When he gets kicked out, we usually are way behind.”
Ausmus went nuts Monday night following a fourth-inning strike-three call on Nick Castellanos, who was rung up by plate umpire Doug Eddings. Ausmus, after getting in his two — or 25 — cents worth, ripped off his sweatshirt and covered home plate with it.
On Tuesday evening, MLB called and cried foul. He was suspended for the game, and fined an undisclosed chunk of cash.
Lamont, 69, managed eight seasons in the majors, with the Chicago White Sox (1992-95) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1997-2000). He was manager of the year in 1993. He’s not exactly new. So, then, how long does it take a baseball lifer to get over the nerves?
“When we scored seven runs,” Lamont said, a nod to the Tigers’ offensive uprising in the seventh inning.
Make no mistake. Lamont made the decisions Tuesday night, unlike is typically the case when a manager is ejected from the game and still passing word from the clubhouse to the dugout what maneuvers he wants done. For the suspension, Ausmus had to be cleared out.
Lamont was quick with the hook for starter Mike Pelfrey, and even with a five-run lead, he almost pulled Mark Lowe after he walked back-to-back batters leading off the eighth inning. There was only one decision, though, that gave him significant pause — whether to pinch-hit for slumping James McCann with two on and one out in the seventh, with Detroit trailing by a run.
“I liked the matchup,” Lamont said, not saying if it would have been Steven Moya or Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting for McCann.
The move didn’t work, as McCann struck out for the second out.
Jose Iglesias bailed McCann out, though, with a two-run single for a 4-2 lead, which was followed by back-to-back homers by Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez.
And within the hour, Lamont would find himself standing in the manager’s office, smiling and joking and enjoying just about everything about the Tigers’ third victory in a row, this one squarely on his watch.
He just wouldn’t sit down, though, even with his bad knees.
“That’s not my chair,” Lamont said, with a grin.