October 27th, 2013

Add Brad Ausmus, Rick Renteria to Tigers managerial list

The Tigers have reportedly received permission from the Padres to interview two of their employees for the managerial job. One, Brad Ausmus, has been expected for a while. Another, Rick Renteria, was not, though he probably should have been.

Both are in line to interview with the Tigers this week in Detroit, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Sunday night.

Ausmus, a special assistant in the Padres front office, has been a hot name in this search since the day the job opened up. He has neither managed nor coached in the big leagues. His only managerial experience at the pro level was Team Israel in the most recent World Baseball Classic. But his 18-year career behind the plate — three of those seasons in Detroit — and his Dartmouth education are seen as a foundation. Those who know him from his playing and post-playing careers rave about his people skills.

“Great mind for the game,” one AL official said, “and an ability to communicate in layman, PHD, management terms. … Low-energy look but a fierce competitor, humorous but tough, all lends to an ability to find everyone’s button that needs to be pushed.”

Ausmus, who will turn 45 next April, goes against Dombrowski’s remarks last week about previous managerial experience being a plus, but others have suggested an experienced bench coach could help him make up for it. Still, he’d be coming into a win-now job where an adjustment year is not really an option.

Renteria, who will turn 52 in December, has been on the Padres coaching staff the past six seasons, the last three of them as Bud Black’s bench coach. He, too, managed in the WBC, leading Mexico. He also managed for five years in the Padres farm system, and four in the Marlins organization while Dave Dombrowski was the general manager there. Renteria has drawn a lot of buzz for the Cubs managerial opening, and he interviewed for the Mariners job last week.

Add Ausmus and Renteria to Lloyd McClendon and Tim Wallach, both of whom interviewed last week, and the Tigers are up to four candidates for Jim Leyland’s old gig. Of those four, McClendon is the only one who has managed in the Majors before.

Miguel Cabrera wins Hank Aaron Award again

Neither a nasty groin injury that sapped some power numbers nor the magical season of Chris Davis could keep Miguel Cabrera from another Hank Aaron Award. The Tigers superstar was on hand to receive his second consecutive honor — given to the top hitter in each league — prior to Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

By now, you know the numbers and feats. Cabrera is the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby built a hitting dynasty in the same city where Cabrera received his award Sunday night. His .348 average topped everybody else in the Majors by at least 17 points. His .442 on-base percentage and .636 slugging clip also led the big leagues, resulting in a career-best 1.078 OPS that led baseball by 74 points.

Add in highlight feats like the three-homer game at Texas in May, the game-tying shot to straightaway center off Danny Salazar in August, and the two home runs off Mariano Rivera over three games in the Bronx, and Cabrera had a tough case to top in fan balloting, as well as the vote of a panel of Hall of Famers that included Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.

Cabrera won out over 14 other AL team nominees, including Davis, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, David Ortiz and Robinson Cano.

“It’s a great honor,” Cabrera said at the press conference. “I don’t expect to win any hardware. I expect to win games. My goal is always to go out and win games. We fell short this year, but I know we have a great team. This award is for all my teammates.”

The second half of that hitting, of course, came despite what was revealed last week to be a grade 2-3 groin injury. Hank Aaron acknowledged at the press conference the challenge of what Cabrera was able to play through, calling it remarkable.

“It was hard to talk to the media about how I was feeling,” Cabrera said, “because I was trying to focus on how I could help my team to win games. I was hurt, but I don’t want to open up and try to tell the other team I was hurt. I want to be in the field. …

“It was hard, but i want to play like that. I want to go out and help my team like that. It was my choice.”

Cabrera was not asked whether he’ll need surgery to repair the injury.

Cabrera is the fourth player to win back-to-back Hank Aaron Awards since it began in 1999. Jose Bautista won two in a row in 2010 and 2011 before Cabrera broke his reign last year. Alex Rodriguez won three in a row from 2001-2003. Barry Bonds won the NL honor three times in a four-year span from 2001 to 2004.

Cabrera also talked for the first time about Jim Leyland’s retirement and how he took the news after Game 6 of the ALCS last weekend.

“It was a big surprise for all of us,” he said. “He was an inspiration to us all. I thanked him because thanks to him, I’m a better player. He always makes us believe that we can win every single game. He should have his own reasons and I am very sad that he has retired.”