The latest edition of the Tigers Show features fallout from the trade deadline and the Hall of Fame ceremony. The Detroit News
Detroit – The Tigers can expect a visitor when they get to the clubhouse in Anaheim Monday or Tuesday.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be there,” said Brad Ausmus, who managed the Tigers from 2014-2017. “I will probably go up early one day and say hello to some of the guys, and of course to Mac (Lloyd McClendon) and Dave Clark – my coaches who are still there.”
Ausmus is presently a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler. We talked on the phone Saturday morning, hours before reports from Ken Rosenthal and others that this would be the last season Mike Scioscia will manage the Angels.
If those reports are correct — and Scoscia, for his part, forcefully denied them Sunday — that changes Ausmus’ profile. He would almost certainly be among the top candidates for the job. When Ausmus took the job as special assistant with the Angels, a front office executive I respect very much said, “That’s a manager-in-waiting gig.”
Make no mistake about it, Ausmus wants to manage. And he took the job with the Angels for a variety of reasons – he has a tremendous professional relationship with Eppler, he wanted to take a year to recharge after a tumultuous run with the Tigers and, most importantly, he wanted to stay connected with the game.
“This has been exactly what I’d hoped it would be,” Ausmus said on Saturday, again, before the news about Scioscia broke. “I would have some time at home as well as stay involved in the game.”
In his capacity as special assistant, Ausmus has served the Angels almost exactly the way Alan Trammell is serving Tigers general manager Al Avila. From player development on the field (during spring training), to assessing the club’s minor league players at every level, to doing some amateur scouting before the draft.
“This has given me a chance to see how another organization works,” Ausmus said. “I’ve always like to see how different organizations run from the top down. And I’ve done that now with the Padres, of course the Tigers and now the Angels.
“There are nuances and differences between them and I think that your knowledge of the game grows when you experience and witness those differences.”
The goal, though, is to manage again.
“Yeah, all along I kind of hoped I could get back in the dugout,” he said. “I took kind of a soft year, schedule-wise this year, and then I was hoping I could get back in the dugout.”
It’s lining up that way.
“Hopefully there’s an opportunity,” he said. “You have to have an opportunity.”
It was almost a year ago this month that Ausmus told Avila that, even if one were offered, he wouldn’t accept a contract extension to manage the Tigers beyond the 2017 season. He understood the direction the organization was going, that a new voice was needed in the clubhouse and all he asked was to be allowed to finish what he started.
Ausmus stayed at the helm through the final month and a half last season and completed his contractual obligation, while giving Avila the chance to get a jump on hiring the next manager – which worked out well, since Avila was able to snare Ron Gardenhire just before the Red Sox were able to make him offer.
“I left on good terms,” Ausmus said. “It’s part of the game, you know? Baseball managers have a shelf life. At least, the perception is they have a shelf life. Sometimes change is good. And sometimes it isn’t.”
Nearly every day last September, in Ausmus’ office, the conversation would eventually come around to his tenure with the Tigers – what was he proud of, what would he do different. His answers would always be vague and veiled, especially on the topic of what he’d do differently.
Eleven months removed, he’s not changed his tactics.
“No question I look back on it a lot,” he said. “I don’t think anybody looks back on an experience of four years on a job or a position without thinking there may have been things they would’ve done differently. But overall, there’s not a ton I would change.
“I can’t give you specifics. The vast majority would be similar and even if there were specific things I would change, I wouldn’t tell you. That’s not how I work.”
It may not have seemed like it, especially in those final dreary months, but Ausmus loved managing the Tigers. He had a great relationship with Avila and, despite some of the inevitable grumblings that came out earlier this year, he had strong relationships with most of the players.
“I definitely reflect on it,” he said. “I really liked my four years in Detroit, even if the way we played wasn’t always what we wanted. I miss the area I lived in Birmingham. I miss going down to Comerica. I continually preach to people who don’t know anything about Detroit that the rumors aren’t true.
“This city is on the way up. It’s making a full comeback and it’s a great place to be.”
He says this knowing full well he was vilified by a large segment of the fan base. He says this despite fending off rumors that he was going to be fired from 2015 until the end – and he never was fired. Comes with the territory, he said.
He also knows there is probably nothing he will experience in his next managerial job that he didn’t have to deal with in his four seasons with the Tigers.
“You’ve got to have thick skin in that position,” he said. “Detroit loves their Tigers. They love baseball. It’s a blue-collar town that expects results. I don’t have a problem with any of that. I knew that going in.”
Ausmus has been checking the box scores and keeping tabs on his former players. He’s been impressed with the way Nick Castellanos and Shane Greene have emerged as leaders. He said he saw Greene start that transformation in his final season. He’s looking forward to catching up with guys he helped develop, like Castellanos and James McCann, and his former coaches McClendon and Clark.
“Honestly, I enjoyed my time there,” he said. “There were lots of highs and some lows. But I liked the people there, I really did.”
Maybe next time Ausmus checks in with his former team, he’ll be in the opposite dugout trying to beat them.
ON DECK: ANGELS
Series: Three-game series at Angel Stadium of Anaheim
First pitch: Monday-Tuesday, 10:07 p.m.; Wednesday, 4:07 p.m.
TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday, FSD/97.1 FM.
Probables: Monday – RHP Nick Tropeano (4-6, 4.94) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (6-9, 4.22); Tuesday – LHP Andrew Heaney (6-7, 3.75) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.48); Wednesday – RHP Jamie Barria (6-7, 3.84) vs. LHP Blaine Hardy (4-3, 3.25).
Tropeano, Angels: This will be his fourth start since coming off the DL (shoulder inflammation). In the previous three, he’s been touched up for 10 runs (10 walks and 14 hits) in 17 innings, with an opponents’ OPS of .907. He beat the Tigers at Comerica Park on May 29.
Boyd, Tigers: He’s coming off a brilliant eight-inning, shutout effort against the Reds and he’s allowed just three runs in 19 innings over his last three starts. But he’s had issues on the road – 2-6, 5.49. Opponents are hitting .251 against him on the road, .192 at Comerica Park.