By Ashley Dunkak
Since new Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has never managed a game before, no one really knows too much about his managing style. He helped enlighten folks Wednesday in his first interview with 97.1 The Ticket.
The Tigers’ boom-or-bust offense succeeded more often than not in 2013. Ausmus wants to see it work well even when the hits are not coming so easily.
“Hopefully we’re aggressive instead of always sitting back for a three-run homer,” Ausmus said Wednesday on Stoney and Bill. “I don’t think you need speed. You can run the bases aggressively and force the defense to make the play without being a burner, so to speak, on the bases. I’m not talking strictly about stealing bases. I’m talking about taking the extra base or reacting to a ball in the dirt and moving up 90 feet. There’s a lot of things you can do to force the defense to make the play on you.
“Sometimes it won’t work in your favor, but I think overall, over the course of six months, with that frame of mind, I think it’s helpful for those stretches where you aren’t getting three-run homers,” Ausmus added.
While Ausmus is someone who respects sabermetrics and feels there is a place for the numbers, he knows instinct still plays into situations, and he plans to implement both aspects. While he probably will not rely on statistics too heavily in deciding who plays, he might use the numbers in some situations.
“I don’t think I’ll do it too often making the lineups, especially the heart of the lineup,” Ausmus said. “Maybe more towards the bottom of the lineup or in a pinch-hit situation … I don’t live and die by the numbers. They’re still human beings with personalities and emotions and insecurities, and I think that plays into it also.
“Sometimes you have to trust your gut and say, ‘Hey, this guy loves the big situation and he’s due,'” Ausmus added. “But I will also look at the numbers.”
As for bunting, which some sabermetrically-minded individuals believe is just giving up an out, Ausmus has an open mind.
“The game dictates it,” Ausmus said. “There’s certainly a place for bunting in the game. I don’t know that I want to watch Miguel Cabrera bunt somebody over, but there’s a place for it. There are times where bunting might be the best option to get the go-ahead run or tying run, depending on where you’re playing. Then there are times where you’re giving away an out. There’s some guys who actually have a better chance of getting a base hit than actually getting a bunt down.”
Ausmus knows there are some big personalities, even big egos, in the Tigers clubhouse, but he feels confident in his ability to handle the group. He said having bench coach Gene Lamont, who already knows the team, will also be a help in that regard.
“This is a really good clubhouse,” Ausmus continued. “These guys want to win, they play hard, they play the game the right way. I think from that aspect it’s relatively easy to step in. The other upside is Gene Lamont will be the bench coach this year, who was here the last number of years, and he knows all the players and the personalities and any of that kind of stuff I can certainly lean on him.”
The new manager also reacted to the female response to him, including a new Twitter account named @sexyausmus. He said his wife would probably have it where he was less good-looking and getting less reaction, and he regrets taking a shirtless surfing photo for the cover of a men’s health magazine when he was with the Houston Astros.
“As soon as I had it taken, I went back and told my wife that was the biggest mistake I ever made,” Ausmus said wryly. “I said yes to it, so I blame myself … but I wish I hadn’t done it. I can’t do anything about it now.”
Back to baseball, Ausmus said that the team is working to improve its bullpen but that overall the situation looks solid.
“You always are looking at areas to try to improve your team,” Ausmus said, “but it’s a pretty good team. It’s a really good team.”