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Sports Talk: Del Mar’s Ausmus is still driving the Detroit Tigers

Someone mentioned Jimmy O’s, the Del Mar watering hole, and with that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus finally smiled. Detroit snapped a season-high, eight-game losing streak in San Diego and just maybe a Sunday toast was in order.

“That’s near my house,” Ausmus said. “I’ve been there before.”

Ausmus, though, didn’t stick around after the Padres took two of three weekend games from the Tigers. And for Ausmus, the former Padres catcher and front-office executive, that’s a plus.

It’s hard to explain how Detroit eclipses Del Mar this time of year. But that’s what Ausmus’ occupation requires and he’ll pay the price.

Although there was some doubt whether Ausmus would still be managing the Tigers before Sunday’s win.

Tigers fans were harping on Ausmus when he rolled through town. In his fourth year with Detroit, he hasn’t quite delivered what its faithful expect from its high-priced roster.

So that had the temperature elevated in Ausmus’ office and it had nothing to do with summer’s debut.

“I am not comfortable unless my (seat) is hot,” he said.

The Tigers have been far from that, which has Ausmus’ security being questioned. But with a shoddy bullpen, an underachieving lineup and an inconsistent rotation, well, good luck with that.

“Two things I knew for sure coming in,” Ausmus said. “A lot of what happens with a baseball team is out of the manager’s control. And when I was hired there was a good chance I might get fired. Not many managers leave on their own terms. It’s just the nature of the job.”

There are only 30 of them in the Major Leagues. What’s zany is Ausmus is one of three managers with a North County residence.

Dave Roberts of Cardiff has the Los Angeles Dodgers in first place.

Bud Black of Rancho Santa Fe has directed the Colorado Rockies to their best start in franchise history.

Then there’s Ausmus, who’s in his last year of his contract and ain’t baseball a grand game?

After getting back to the .500 mark (29-29) on June 7, the Tigers lost 12 of their next 15 games to fall into the AL Central cellar.

Ausmus doesn’t whine. Nor does he upend the post-game spread. Or produce a fake tirade during a clubhouse meeting.

“If it was a lack of effort or a lack of caring, then there would have to be a discussion,” Ausmus said. “But our energy couldn’t have been better. They are pulling for each other.

“I don’t need to tell them we haven’t won lately. They are pretty aware of it. They get it. They care. They come in with good attitudes.”

The same goes for Ausmus. His dry sense of humor remains intact, knowing better than most about baseball’s roller coaster ride. 

He caught nearly 2,000 games in an 18-year career, which included being with the Padres from 1993 to ’96. Ausmus worked in San Diego’s front office after retiring in 2010, then landed the Tigers gig at age 44.

Back then Ausmus’ hair was all black. Not sure the same is true now as Ausmus digs in.

“I’m not folding up shop, that’s not how I operate,” he said. “I guess that’s why I don’t worry about it. You keep grinding and fighting until someone tells you, ‘Hey we don’t want you to grind and fight any more.’ ”

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports.

1 comment

Jules July 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm

His hair is now salt and pepper, maybe more salt. Still looks great! Brad has been the fans whipping boy and feel bad for him. IMO, he is trying to make chicken salad out of the chicken manure the front office has given him. Feel for him and hopes that wherever he is, he does well. Ever since watching him play in Houston, knew he has a great managerial career ahead. Still know that.

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