Ausmus on pinch-hitting Martinez, Salty in 8th
The questions for Brad Ausmus before Monday’s loss centered on whether he expected to walk Bryce Harper. That wasn’t a surprise. The questions after Monday’s loss included Victor Martinez’s pinch-hit intentional walk in the eighth. That wasn’t a big surprise, either. In the end, Ausmus anticipated it, and opted to take his shot with an extra run for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Once first base opened with Miguel Cabrera thrown out at third and Nick Castellanos taking second in his place, Ausmus expected Nationals manager Dusty Baker would walk Martinez if he hit for James McCann with two outs. If Saltalamacchia pinch-hit, that probably wouldn’t happen.
However, Ausmus believed this was his inning for using Martinez in a high-leverage situation.
“I assumed that Dusty probably was going to walk him,” Ausmus said. “But ultimately, you’re going to end up getting Saltalamacchia at the plate. I either hit Saltalamacchia right away, or I hit Saltalamacchia with two guys on instead of one. I was in between, quite frankly.I wasn’t sure we’d have another opportunity to use Victor, because we’re at that point in the lineup. We were coming around to the top of the lineup in the ninth inning.
“I was in between. I decided if Dusty walked him, hopefully Salty gets a big hit with two guys on. You would end up getting Salty vs. somebody either way.”
Martinez hit for McCann and was walked, replaced by Andrew Romine as a pinch-runner. Saltalamacchia hit for Anthony Gose and struck out. The exchange ended up including three Detroit players off the bench, ending with Romine in center field and Saltalamacchia behind the plate. But Ausmus ultimately decided it was his inning to go for it.
Before the game, Ausmus held a lengthy media session that included him talking about his future and his decision-making process as speculation built about his job security.
“Before I was ever hired, I said it in a [job] interview: I will never make a decision because I’m afraid to get second-guessed by the media, and I’ll never make a decision because I’m afraid to lose my job,” Ausmus explained. “I’m just not going to do it.”
He reached that conclusion out of observation from his playing days.
“I’ve seen managers make decisions because they were worried about what the media was saying,” he said. “That’s not why you make decisions. You make decisions because you think it’s the right decision to help your team win. Now, are you going to always be right? No, of course not. Managers are human. And so many times, there’s a gray area where maybe you should or shouldn’t do it. If the pick works, it looks like it’s great. If it doesn’t, then it gets questioned.”
Asked if his outlook of managing on the hot seat has changed at all from last September, when speculation about his job was higher than this, Ausmus indicated not much his changed.
“I’ve been on the hot seat for a year,” he quipped. “It hasn’t changed much. I guess I’m more comfortable with it now.”