By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers started the season 27-12, a remarkable beginning that culminated in a sweep of the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Since that point, the Tigers are 4-12 and have struggled in almost every facet of the game, with problems ranging from starting pitching to relief pitching to hitting to defense.
First-time manager Brad Ausmus, who played in the major leagues for more than a decade, is not concerned. Early in the season, the Tigers have looked their best, and they have looked their worst. Ausmus believes the former is the truer version of the Tigers.
“Well, 27 and 12 adds up to 39, 4 and 12 is 16, so I’ll go with the larger number,” Ausmus said. “I was on a Houston Astros team that started the season 15 and 30. We’re talking about 15 games under .500 a month and a half into the season and then went into the World Series. So it certainly isn’t a tragedy by any stretch.
“It’s not exactly how we drew it up,” Ausmus continued, “and we certainly don’t want to play the way we played, but this isn’t Armageddon.”
The Tigers gave fans a glimpse into the chemistry of the clubhouse after the Boston series, when they tweeted countless pictures of themselves dressed head to toe in the goofy Zubaz gear that has been emblematic of the team. The players have seemed to enjoy being around each other, and Ausmus said that element has not diminished at all despite the losing.
“They still have fun coming to the ballpark and being around each other, which is good because … it makes it easier to come to the stadium when you’re struggling on the field when you have a group of guys, a group of people around you that you want to go to work with,” Ausmus said. “It’s similar to any job; if you like the people you’re working with, it’s much more fun to go to that job. So as much as it stinks every time you lose, at least you enjoy the people you’re around and you believe in the people you’re around and you know you’ll come out of it.”
The Tigers have lost four straight games, but players – including rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos – have not lost faith.
“Sometimes teams are going to go through phases like this, rough stretches, but you know what, when we get out of this storm, we’re going to be a lot stronger,” Castellanos said. “This is an obstacle right now, and we still have our eye on the prize at the end of the tunnel, so this is just something we’re going to get through together, and when we do, it’s going to be good.”
“It’s not going to last,” Castellanos added. “It’s not going to last the whole season … We got a phenomenal group of guys and a great staff. This is just a stretch, and that’s all it is. It’s a learning curve for us as a team.”