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Ausmus: No rush to judgment on Rodriguez

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — If Tigers manager Brad Ausmus reacted to his team’s struggles the way fans do on Twitter, the roster would be in constant flux. Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Rodriguez and Jordan Zimmermann would be gone. Victor Martinez would be batting ninth. Miguel Cabrera would have been benched in the second week of April.

“The patience in baseball has waned, in a sport where patience is paramount,” Ausmus said before the game Friday. “It’s such a long season. You need to see guys perform over the long haul, especially guys who have a track record.”

The topic came up in reference to Rodriguez. His slow start, which is very similar to the slow start he had last season, has caused a storm of negativity on Twitter and local talk radio shows.

“We are not even a sixth of the way through the season,” Ausmus said. “Miguel Cabrera got off to a slow start. Should I have benched him? Probably not.

“He’s not Miguel Cabrera, but you can make the argument that Frankie Rodriguez has a pretty good resume.”

“Not as good as Miggy’s, but a pretty good resume.”

Through the first eight games last season, Rodriguez had blown a save and allowed five runs and seven hits in 7.1 innings. Over the next 12 outings, he had 10 saves and allowed just three runs in 11.1 innings with 12 strikeouts.

He went on to post 44 saves in 49 opportunities.

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“This is a city that has historically dealt with question marks from the closer role,” Ausmus said. “But this guy did a pretty good job for us last year. He got the loss yesterday and we know he can pitch better.

“But he has saved six of eight and it could be seven of eight if we’d have turned the double play. I’m going to be hesitant to rush to judgment.”

It was suggested that fans across the country are watching and reacting to baseball with the same mentality they do with the NFL, which plays a 16-game schedule, not a 162-game schedule.

“I don’t know if I’d point to the NFL,” Ausmus said. “But, maybe because of social media, I do think there is a much quicker rush to judgment on players in baseball today than there was even back when I played.

“I would point mostly to social media because people who are making decisions are getting bombarded with these comments, either directly or second-hand from media who are asking about things that are said on social media.”

Be the 10th man

The Tigers’ 2-1 loss to the Mariners ended Thursday on a foul ball hit by James McCann that was caught by first baseman Taylor Motter reaching into the stands — catching it amidst two Tigers fans and one Mariners fan.

“I think the instinct for a fan is to get out of the way of a moving baseball, not get in the way of one,” Ausmus said. “But feel free if we’re hitting to go after a ball (laughing). Don’t lean over the rail, but if it’s past the rail and in the seats, it’s fair game.”

He was joking. Sort of.

“If it’s the (opponent) hitting and we have a beat on it, let the player catch it,” he said. “You can get the 10th-man award right there.”

Ausmus recalled an assist he got from a fan one night at the old Candlestick Park in San Francisco. He hit a fence-scraper to wall in left field. Barry Bonds was poised to catch the ball before it landed in the seats.

“This was pre-replay,” Ausmus said. “It was going in Bonds’ glove and a fan put his glove over Bonds’ and caught it. Home run.”

Around the horn

Miguel Cabrera (groin) did some light running Friday, including a jog around the bases. He also took batting practice for 20 minutes. “All systems are go, so far,” Ausmus said. He is on track to be activated Tuesday.

… Right fielder J.D. Martinez (foot) was expected to get multiple at-bats in an extended spring training game Friday. Ausmus didn’t have a report before the game.

… Center fielder JaCoby Jones got the nine stitches removed from his mouth and took batting practice and outfield drills. He will be sent out on a rehab assignment Tuesday.

... The Tigers have sent right-handed pitcher Drew Smith to the Rays as the player to be named later for outfielder Mikie Mahtook. Smith was 1-0 and had allowed one earned run in 11.2 innings at High-A Lakeland this season.

Twitter @cmccosky


First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Derek Holland (2-2, 1.99), White Sox: Battling injuries, he’s only made 38 starts over the three previous seasons. He is coming off a strong six-inning win over the Indians, having allowed a run and three hits with six strikeouts.

RHP Michael Fulmer (2-1, 2.88), Tigers: Because he was so dominant last season (33 straight scoreless innings at one point), it may seem like he’s struggled early this season. But he has not. Fulmer’s WHIP in four starts is under 1 (0.96), and he has 23 strikeouts in 25 innings.