Minneapolis — In what might have been his final game in a Tigers uniform, Ian Kinsler served as manager in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Twins Sunday.
“It was interesting,” Kinsler said. “You look at the game in a different way. There are a lot of variables you have to think about.”
Kinsler didn’t do much maneuvering. He allowed starter Anibal Sanchez to pitch five innings (93 pitches), then used Blaine Hardy, Joe Jimenez and Drew VerHagen for an inning each out of the bullpen.
“I just went to him at breakfast and asked if he wanted to do it,” said Brad Ausmus, whose managerial tenure ended Sunday. “He seemed adamant that he’d like to do it. I cleared it with the umpires before the game. He made all the changes and the umpires gave all the changes to him. I was just the bench coach.”
Ausmus was actually paying forward something Joe Torre did for him at the end of his playing career. Torre had Ausmus manage a game at the end of both the 2009 and 2010 season with the Dodgers.
“I really enjoyed it,” Ausmus said. “I was 1-1.”
Ausmus was asked how he thought Kinsler did, and he went into heavy-sarcasm mode.
“I was second-guessing him,” he said, chuckling. “I shot him a couple of Tweets, wondering why he brought Hardy in and why he brought VerHagen in and they gave up home runs. And he got the loss.
“The ceiling is high for him. This is just the start.”
Kinsler’s $11 million option for 2018 has vested and he remains a Tiger. But he is well aware he could be traded in the offseason. He has already met with general manager Al Avila.
“Basically he just said let’s wait and see what happens in the offseason and take it from there,” Kinsler said. “Right now I am under contract with the Detroit Tigers and I need to prepare myself to be back here.”
He was asked if he expected to be traded.
“I don’t know if I anticipate one way or another,” he said. “There were a lot of rumors last year, a lot of rumors at the start of the season and there will be a lot of rumors again. So all I can do is prepare the best I can for an 162-game schedule.”
He said he absolutely would like to return and try to provide leadership to a young clubhouse next season. But understands if Avila can flip him to a contending team for prospects, either this winter or at the trade deadline, that’s what will happen.
“I’ve had a lot of really good moments here and a lot of tough ones,” he said. “Which is the way baseball is, regardless of where you are at.”
No. 1 pick assured
The Tigers will have the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft for the first time since 1997. The Tigers chose pitcher Matt Anderson that year.
Before the game, the Tigers were assured of a top three pick. Avila said that while there was a good chance of getting a big-time player with any of the top three picks — best to get as high as you can.
“Every draft is different,” Avila said. “I remember my first draft, the consensus best player was Josh Hamilton. He was a high school player with freaky potential. I thought he was going to be the next Mickey Mantle.
“Josh Beckett, a high school pitcher, was the second-best player. And after that, there was a big drop off. If we would have got the third pick that year, it would have been a disappointment.”
Around the horn
Alex Presley homered on Sunday, improving his season average to a team-best .314 (100 at-bats minimum). He also finished with a .359 average against Central Division pitching, second only to White Sox's Avisail Garcia.
…The final defensive play of the season was a gem. Dixon Machado ran far into shallow left field to make a lunging, over-the-shoulder catch of a popup by Jason Castro.