As the Detroit Tigers wrap up their nine-game homestand with only two losses, General Manager Al Avila shared his thoughts on Brad Ausmus.
Sadly, the Skipper did not manage the last game against the Philadelphia Phillies because his mother unexpected passed away. Ausmus traveled to Connecticut to be with his family; so, he will not manage on Friday against the Oakland A’s either.
Bench Coach Gene Lamont managed the last game of the homestand and he will manage game one in Oakland, too. Unfortunately for Lamont and the Tigers, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton were out of the lineup. Kinsler was not feeling well and Upton has a quad muscle issue.
The end of the homestand gave Al Avila an opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of managing and how he feels about Brad Ausmus and the job he is doing.
According to an article by Jason Beck with MLB.com, Avila supports Ausmus. In fact, Avila thinks very highly of the man and his work. Avila commented that Ausmus is not creating problems with the team – he is solving them.
Avila said about Ausmus: “…I’m telling you right now, Brad is one of the smartest guys that you’re going to find in baseball. On top of that, he’s also one of the more experienced guys from a pure baseball background. So he’s got that analytical mind, he’s got wit, but he’s also got the baseball player in him of 18 years behind the plate.”
While these words are positive, Avila did preface them with: “I understand you can do all you can, and if things don’t work out, at the end of the day you still might have to make a change just for the sake of change.”
It is clear that Avila has seen and heard what the critics have said about Ausmus. He also made it perfectly clear that those critics said the same things about Jim Leyland, especially when the Tigers were not performing up to expectations. And Leyland is a manager who should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, so the fact that critics and fans lambasted him shows the fickle nature of the Tigers nation.
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Avila still considers the word of Jim Leyland. He also listens closely to Al Kaline and Alan Trammell. If they think that Ausmus should be removed from his position as manager, Avila will do it. Avila said: “I talk to him [Leyland] all the time. I’ve got Al Kaline here, I’ve got Alan Trammell, I’ve got Kirk Gibson. I’ve got a lot of old guys here that really know the game, and believe me, if these guys said get rid of the manager, you’ve got to listen. And not one person has said that. So there’s a lot of support from within.”
As fans, it is easy to blame the manager when things are going poorly and to praise the players when they are playing well. Even though the Tigers had that stretch of 4-11, the team did continue to battle – which is a sign that the manager can keep the team together in rough times. Not every manager is capable of doing this. During the current 7-2 stretch, the team has played well and has come back to .500.
When Ausmus returns to the team in Oakland, they will be facing the 20-27 A’s. The Tigers should not have any problems adding to their wins. But, when the team moves south to Los Angeles, the Tigers will have to show what they are made of – especially with the fact that the Tigers rarely perform well against Mike Trout and the Angels. In the past five years, the Tigers are 4-17 when playing the Angels in California.