(CBS Detroit) The Detroit Tigers ousted manager Brad Ausmus Friday afternoon in a move that, like most things, happened slowly — and then suddenly.
The news started as a hint on Twitter when an assignment editor at a local television station said the team had invited media down for an impromptu presser. The actual media invite came about five minutes later.
Many were stunned it happened with so little fanfare.
Standing in the dugout, General Manager Al Avila confirmed it was the end of the road for Brad Ausmus. Avila said it was “time for a change” and added the team has no one in mind yet as a replacement.
“We’re going to do a lot of thorough background work,” he said of Ausmus’ potential replacement, adding the manager search is going to be a long, hard and trying process. Ausmus and his coaching staff will remain in their current positions through the end of the 2017 season.
“As we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position,” Avila said in a press release. “Brad has done an admirable job under, at times, difficult circumstances, especially this season, and we appreciate his professionalism and dedication to the Tigers the past four years. Our search for a new manager is underway. We plan to keep an open-mind in considering current members of the coaching staff for positions in 2018, but that will be in conjunction with the manager we hire.”
While he was not at the announcement, Ausmus had issued a veiled farewell to Tigers’ fans last week and seemed accepting of the fact he won’t be back.
Discussing the team’s future batting order on Wednesday, for 2018 and beyond, Ausmus said, “The manager will have to figure out where they all hit.”
But his intention to stay has also been clear. Toward the end of last season, with his future in Detroit uncertain already at that point, Ausmus wasn’t afraid to say he hoped to return.
He said he believed the Tigers had the makeup of a contender and wanted another chance to guide them to the playoffs. The organization has done a stark 180 since the skipper was hired in 2013, ditching its win-now approach for a full-scale rebuild.
But this season has been abysmal: The team lost 12-1 Friday to the Minnesota Twins; Their record with 10 games left in 2017 is 62-91, 34 games behind the Cleveland Indians.
Former skipper Jim Leyland, for one, wanted him to return. “First of all, I’m hoping that Brad comes back. I think he’s done a terrific job under the circumstances,” Leyland told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket last week.
Leyland, who serves as a special assistant for the Tigers, said he believed Ausmus is “the perfect guy” to lead the team forward. Why?
“Because he’s a young guy, he can work active with the players physically, he’s in great shape, he throws BP. He’s got a good rapport with his players,” Leyland said. “I certainly hope that he comes back.”
Ausmus was named the 37th manager in Tigers history on November 3, 2013. He led Detroit to an American League Central Division title in his first season as the Tigers manager in 2014. During his four-year tenure as Tigers manager, the Tigers have posted a 312-325 (.490) record.