Ausmus: No closer competition
The strongest statement from Brad Ausmus didn’t involve words, at least not initially. It was a shaking of the head to indicate the Tigers’ closer job is not up for grabs, though the Tigers closer has an issue with his grip.
Joe Nathan paid for a hanging slider with a game-tying home run to Jayson Nix on Thursday, his second of back-to-back outings. Ausmus said afterwards that Nathan was dealing with a thumbnail that had dug into his skin, opening a cut above the nail.
“He was bleeding,” Ausmus said. “He had it all over his pants, so he must have been wiping it off the whole time. Certainly, that was an issue.”
That wasn’t the only question for Ausmus. With Joakim Soria pitching a perfect ninth for the save — his seventh shutout inning this spring — following Victor Martinez’s go-ahead homer, the inquiry came up: Is there a competition for the closer job?
That’s when Ausmus shook his head.
“The answer is no,” Ausmus said later. “I guess it’s tough to quote, so I’ll say no.”
Thus, Soria is set to enter the season as the setup man. It’s the defined role he didn’t have after coming over from Texas in a trade last July, but it’s not the back-end role he had for most of his career.
“That’s what I was doing my whole career,” he said. “It’s something that I know. I’m not excited about it, but being setup is not that different. I love this game and I love it anywhere I pitch.”