Ausmus reflects on first spring, season ahead
Tigers skipper has good feel for club, ready to begin games that count
Brad Ausmus' first Spring Training as Tigers manager will probably be known for three things: They ran the bases a lot, they had a lot of injuries and they had a lot of fun in offbeat morning meetings. Now that the regular season is near and the emphasis is on winning games, Ausmus talked a little bit about how those factors all translate to Detroit's season goals.
MLB.com: Jim Leyland used to say there's a point in Spring Training when a long camp becomes a short camp, usually based on the decisions you have to make. With the decisions you had to make the last couple weeks, did this become a short camp all of a sudden?
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Ausmus: It does creep up, I think, the last 10 days. It ends up creeping up pretty quickly. Spring Training seems so long when you first get here and you think you have so much time. A lot of decisions were kind of made for this roster, and then you throw the injury factor in. And I don't want to say you're scrambling, but there's some rapid changes in a short amount of time, so it makes things speed up a little bit toward the end -- or at least it did this year.
I think from a player's perspective, I remember it reaching this point and saying, "All right, I've had enough of these meaningless games."
MLB.com: As a manager, do you actually think you wish you had a few more games to look at players?
Ausmus: No, no, I think guys are ready. I don't worry about that. I said from the get-go, it's tough to evaluate off of Spring Training anyway. I don't know that another week would make a difference.
MLB.com: You've had almost a full camp of green lights for all your baserunners. How well do you think your mentality has come across?
Ausmus: I think it's gone well overall. Guys are aggressive on the bases. We've had those morning meetings and I occasionally remind them. That's the thing about baseball: It's such a long season that it's easy to get -- I don't want to call it a slump, but it's easy to forget what we were trying to accomplish early on. We're not even in the season. Into the season, there'll be reminders.
Now, some of these guys will have the green light yanked away from them when we leave here, but most of them will continue to keep them.
MLB.com: With baserunning and defense, do you see the differences you were hoping to see?
Ausmus: Yeah, I think it's gone well. I'm certainly pleased by the effort all the way around, specifically running the bases. But we'll see. I hope it has a real effect. I expect that it will. You never know until you get into the season.
MLB.com: How much more do you know now about what makes these players tick than you did going into camp?
Ausmus: A lot. Just talking to them in the outfield, or you talk to them in the clubhouse and you're joking around with them. It's just like being a player going to a new team or a new player comes to your team. The more you're around, everybody gets to know them.
MLB.com: How have you seen them working past the injury attrition?
Ausmus: They'll be fine. Players don't look backwards, generally speaking. You have to look forward. Guys who get caught staring in the rearview mirror end up being lost. Most of these guys are veteran guys. They've been on teams that have had injuries and moved on.
MLB.com: How much is there about players and how they go that you can't learn until the regular season and you see them go through a tough stretch?
Ausmus: Oh, there's definitely that factor, especially with young guys. Until the bright lights come on and 40,000 people are screaming and it's 2-1 in the ninth inning -- it's tough to replicate that in Clearwater, Fla. The heart starts racing. There is a learning curve with that, for sure. You have to be able to calm yourself down.
MLB.com: Looking back on those daily morning meetings, what did you think you accomplished from them?
Ausmus: My hope is that it kind of brought the team together. You'd have to ask the players that. I think it seemed to go pretty well. I think it's good that once we get to the games, we don't have them every single day. Like on away games, we don't have them. That way it doesn't seem like a business meeting. But we had some fun. We definitely had some laughs in there, lots of baseball discussion in there. There were some good spots to reiterate to the players and remind them that whether it's baserunning or hitting or pitching, it's a good forum in there.
I probably won't have those meetings [in the regular season]. But if we have to remind them of something, I can certainly call a meeting.