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Ausmus to stay as Tigers manager for 2016

Brad Ausmus is staying as Tigers manager. General manager Al Avila announced Saturday that Ausmus and his entire coaching staff will remain in charge for next season, ending speculation surrounding the second-year manager’s future.

“After almost two months of watching this team play, evaluating our staff and the manager, a lot of discussion with my staff — David Chadd, John Westhoff, Scott Bream, Jim Leyland, Al Kaline amongst others — I’ve decided that Brad Ausmus should be our manager going into 2016,” Avila said in a Saturday afternoon press briefing in the Tigers dugout at Comerica Park.

Ausmus, hired in November 2013 by then-president and GM Dave Dombrowski, will be entering the final season of his three-year contract. No talks have taken place on anything beyond that, but after a two-month evaluation by Avila, he has the front office’s backing to lead next season.

The decision came from Avila, he said, with support from owner Mike Ilitch, who named Avila as his GM in August.
“Mr. Ilitch left it up to me, and I made the decision,” Avila said. “I called him, I said, ‘Mr. Ilitch, I’m going to keep Brad Ausmus.’ He said, ‘God bless you, move forward.’”

He made the decision knowing what some of the fan reaction could be. But he made it thinking about the on-field product gearing up for next season.

“I know where the criticism is. My thing is I believe that Brad has the talent, the knowhow to lead and mentor the young players that are on this team,” Avila said. “They’ve shown great improvement. Guys like James McCann, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Gose, these guys have improved under Brad and his staff. We have a lot of young pitchers also that have improved. He also has the respect and the backing of the veteran players on this team. So that combination, to me, tells me that Brad is the right man to lead this team into next year.

McCann, in particular, has been a focus on Ausmus’ teaching as the season has gone on. Ausmus has had him take on responsibility with scouting reports for pitchers going into series and game plans going into each contest.
The Tigers saw their four-year reign atop the American League Central end this year at the hands of the Royals. Their next loss will clinch their first losing season since 2008 and officially eliminate them from Wild Card contention. It was a disappointing result for a team that had postseason expectations going into the year, even with the Royals’ resurgence.

The struggles cost Dombrowski his job a month and a half ago. The challenge Avila faced was evaluating the struggles in light of the team Ausmus had to work with. Among the factors Avila cited were injuries to Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Joe Nathan, Bruce Rondon and Anibal Sanchez, along with the decision to trade away David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria at the end of July — as well as the challenge of working with the youngsters that replaced them, such as Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Tyler Collins, Steven Moya and Bruce Rondon.

“I think if you see all the injuries that we’ve had, from Day 1, we didn’t have a chance,” Avila said. “This has been a flawed team coming out of Spring Training because of all the injuries.”

Several veteran players said the same in defense of Ausmus’ work over the past six weeks, including Cabrera, Castellanos, Alex Avila and Ian Kinsler.

That said, the way the Tigers have played down the stretch — their postseason chances essentially over — played a factor, Avila said. Despite an injury-riddled pitching staff, Detroit entered Saturday with a 12-11 record in September and a chance for its first winning month since April. Moreover, the Tigers are 8-5 since reports of Ausmus’ impending dismissal came out two weeks ago.

“This team as you’ve noticed has not given up. They’ve played hard. They’re continuing to try to win every game they can. They’ve never given up. … I know we’ve made some mistakes on the field, but some of those mistakes come when you have young players. Every team has that. The thing is, what do you do about that? I know from the inside, day in and day out, how those things are addressed. I know that we work on these things. I know we work on baserunning; I know that we work on every aspect of the game. I know how this organization, how these guys prepare, before every game.

“We have a system of preparing for every game. And it’s a good system. And it gets followed through. I have every confidence that it will continue and this team will improve. If I didn’t believe that, obviously, I wouldn’t be making this decision. This decision was made based on what I think is best for this organization moving forward.”

Ausmus, for his part, said the reports didn’t impact his work.

“Initially, when the story breaks, it’s a little tough,” he said, “but I’ll be honest with you: It’s been business as usual. We’re prepared exactly the same way. I can’t control what’s written. After talking with Al about it, he said it didn’t come from them. I knew that baseball operations people, of course Al and Mr. Ilitch, would make the decision. And I just continue to do my job. I said I would do my job until they ask me to leave or until my contract expired, and that’s what we’ll continue to do. But we do expect things to be better in 2016.”

The expectation for 2016, Avila said, remains to contend for a title next season. The expectation going into next season is to give Ausmus a better chance at that.

“Once the season’s over, going into October, we’ll have our major league staff come in, we’ll have our advisors in there, too, and we’ll go over every single organization,” Avila said. “We’ll figure out where some possible trades could be made, we’ll rank all the free-agent guys we may be interested in out there, and we’ll try to acquire some of the players that we need additionally to make this team a winning team next year.

“Thank goodness, though, we feel like we have a good core of players here that are a mix of some veterans with some nice young players that are up and coming. That core is very important, because you can’t create a whole, brand new team. We have the basics, the core players here to start that process of just adding a few more to have a winning team.”

Ausmus, they believe, is the guy to lead them.

“You can see the improvement of the young players, and you can see the dedication and the pride in the veteran players,” Avila said. “To me, I’m very proud of how they have faced adversity, how they have come up and continued to do their best, and play their best. And they, in their hearts, all want to come back next year and try to win that championship.”

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Twins

Miguel Cabrera returns to the Tigers lineup after being rested for Wednesday’s game to ease the wear and tear on his lower back. Rajai Davis gets the start in left against Mike Pelfrey, whose lefty-righty splits this year are near-even on batting average but about 100 points different in OPS in favor of left-handed hitters. Over the previous few seasons, however, right-handed hitters have fared better against Pelfrey.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Pelfrey)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (5-for-12, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-16, 2 doubles, HR, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-26, 7 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-23, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-9, double, 5 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-8, HR, walk)
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Andrew Romine, SS (0-for-1, walk)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (3-for-8, double)

P: Matt Boyd


  1. Aaron Hicks, CF
  2. Brian Dozier, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B
  4. Miguel Sano, DH
  5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
  6. Torii Hunter, RF
  7. Eddie Rosario, LF
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C
  9. Eduardo Escobar, SS

P: Mike Pelfrey

Jim Leyland remembers idol turned friend Yogi Berra

Jim Leyland can let out a good cry, as some of his postseason celebrations showed. But sometimes in the moments of greatest sorrow, he doesn’t want to. When it comes to remembering the late Yogi Berra, who passed away early Wednesday morning at age 90, he’d rather celebrate a life.

“It’s a tough loss,” Leyland said, “but I think about the great times that I had with Yogi, and the most unbelievable thing that I got to know him. He was my childhood hero, and not only did I get to know him, but we became pretty good friends.

“I thought that was a helluva thing that worked out. When I was a kid and bought my first Yogi Berra catching mitt, I never imagined we’d be friends.”

It was an unlikely friendship, a Hall of Fame catcher who will go down as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, and a manager who never played in the big leagues. But once they met during Leyland’s early coaching days, they not only stayed in touch for 30 years, they made a point to visit each other.

Early on in Leyland’s career, they’d talk about managing, Berra recalling his days in charge of the Mets and Yankees, Leyland getting a grasp of managing in the big leagues. But they’d also talk about life, and trade jokes and stories, and share laughs.

“He gave me a lot of advice over the years,” Leyland said. “He didn’t come out and say you’ve gotta do this, you’ve gotta do that. He talked about handling players, the way baseball’s gonna change. He talked about his experiences, the way he did things. And then you put it in your own personality. It was a treat.”

Leyland heard the Yogisms, sure, and he laughed. But he also heard his hero talking about what made him great, an All-Star every year from 1948 to 1962, a three-time AL MVP, a 14-time World Series participant and 10-time champion. And Leyland took it to heart.

“He really in some ways gave hope to all little guys,” Leyland said. “He wasn’t a very big guy. I loved him because I used to ask him questions like, ‘Why you were such a great hitter? What was your philosophy? And he said, ‘I looked for the ball and if I thought I could hit it, I’d swing at it.’ I just appreciated his straightforward approach to the game, nothing too tricky. …

“I think people also have that image of him being a character and the Yogisms and everything, and that’s part of it. But there’s so much more than that. I knew there was so much more there than that. There was a great substance to Yogi, a bright mind talking about baseball, experiences and such.”

And through it all, they bonded.

“When I got to know him, he treated me like I’d been a big-leaguer all my life, like you’d treat a teammate, and I couldn’t get over that,” Leyland said. “He was a left-handed hitting hall of fame catcher, and I was a right-handed hitting, can’t-hit-nothing catcher. I met a lot of great people in baseball, and Yogi was right up there.”

Every time the Tigers headed to New York during Leyland’s time, he’d have a visitor in his office, usually before the first game of the series. That was Yogi. Later, he invited Leyland to the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in New Jersey for dinner. Leyland went back a couple years ago to join Tony La Russa, Joe Girardi and others for a managerial roundtable.

But if there’s one favorite memory of Yogi that sticks with Leyland, it’s from October. It wasn’t Yogi’s postseason, but Leyland’s. When the Tigers had to go back to Yankee Stadium for a winner-take-all Game 5 in the 2011 AL Division Series, having lost a potential clinching Game 4 in Detroit, Yogi was there to see it, just like another series.

“‘May the best team win, kid,’” Leyland remembers him saying. “He congratulated me after that, too. I’ll never forget it.”

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. White Sox

Miguel Cabrera has some lower back issues, so Brad Ausmus decided to give him the day game off. Combined with Thursday’s scheduled off-day, he’ll get two days to rest before Friday night’s game against the Twins to open the final home series of the season. Alex Avila starts at first base, while Ausmus pairs up Gose and Rajai Davis at the top of the order to move Ian Kinsler to the third spot against White Sox rookie Frankie Montas in his first Major League start. Interestingly, Ausmus keeps Victor Martinez in the cleanup spot without any matchup numbers, so that trend might stick.


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Rajai Davis, LF
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, 1B
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Justin Verlander

whitesoxlogoWHITE SOX (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Adam Eaton, DH (5-for-15, 2 doubles, triple, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Jose Abreu, 1B (8-for-16, double, 2 HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Trayce Thompson, CF
  4. Melky Cabrera, LF (4-for-26, triple, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  5. Avisail Garcia, RF (1-for-6, double, K)
  6. Alexei Ramirez, SS (19-for-75, double, HR, 2 walks, 9 K’s)
  7. Carlos Sanchez, 2B (0-for-3)
  8. Mike Olt, 3B
  9. Geovany Soto, C (1-for-6, HR, walk, 2 K’s)

P: Frankie Montas

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. White Sox

Look for Daniel Norris to get a bit of a higher pitch count tonight compared to his first outing, when he had 45-50 pitches and finished with 47. He’ll supposed get around 60-65 pitches. The starting pitching of Kyle Ryan and Randy Wolf yesterday actually left the bullpen in fairly good shape, at least enough that they shouldn’t have to stretch Norris if they don’t want to.

On the lineup side, Ausmus has flipped Victor and J.D. Martinez back to their previous spots, restoring V-Mart to the cleanup role. He’s 13-for-27 lifetime off Quintana, including 6-for-9 with two doubles this year.

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Jose Quintana)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (12-for-38, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (10-for-30, 2 doubles, walk, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (11-for-30, 4 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (13-for-27, 2 doubles, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-17, triple, 2 walks, 7 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (6-for-20, walk, 5 K’s)
  7. James McCann, C (1-for-4, triple, 2 K’s)
  8. Dixon Machado, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-3, K)

P: Daniel Norris

whitesoxlogoWHITE SOX

  1. Adam Eaton, CF
  2. Jose Abreu, 1B
  3. Trayce Thompson, RF
  4. Melky Cabrera, LF
  5. Avisail Garcia, DH
  6. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  7. Carlos Sanchez, 2B
  8. Tyler Flowers, C
  9. Tyler Saladino, 3B

P: Jose Quintana

Game 2 lineups: Tigers vs. White Sox

Miguel Cabrera returns to the lineup at first base, while Victor Martinez takes the nightcap off, freeing the DH spot for Ian Kinsler. Tyler Collins gets another start in left after going 0-for-3 with a trio of flyouts (one to the right-field track) in Game 1, while Alex Avila gets the start behind the plate, setting up James McCann for a complete day off.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers against Erik Johnson)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, DH
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (0-for-3, K)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Tyler Collins, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-3)
  7. Alex Avila, C (4-for-4, double, walk)
  8. Josh Wilson, 2B (0-for-1, walk)
  9. Andrew Romine, SS

P: Randy Wolf

whitesoxsockWHITE SOX (career numbers off Wolf)

  1. Micah Johnson, 2B
  2. Tyler Saladino, SS
  3. Jose Abreu, DH
  4. Trayce Thompson, LF
  5. Avisail Garcia, RF
  6. Mike Olt, 1B (0-for-3, K)
  7. Gordon Beckham, 3B (1-for-5, double)
  8. Rob Brantly, C
  9. Leury Garcia, CF

P: Erik Johnson

Game 1 lineups: Tigers vs. White Sox

Miguel Cabrera (2-for-13 off Jeff Samardzija) gets the day game off, as does Nick Castellanos (1-for-12 off Samardzija). J.D. Martinez gets the day game at designated hitter, giving Steven Moya a start in right field.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

84tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Samardzija)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (5-for-15, walk, 3 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-15, double, K)
  3. J.D. Martinez, DH (4-for-19, triple, HR, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B (1-for-7, double)
  5. Tyler Collins, LF (3-for-3, triple)
  6. Jefry Marte, 3B
  7. Steven Moya, RF
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Kyle Ryan

whitesox70slogoWHITE SOX (career numbers off Ryan)

  1. Adam Eaton, CF (1-for-6, K)
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS (2-for-5, double, walk)
  3. Jose Abreu, 1B (2-for-5, double, walk)
  4. Melky Cabrera, DH (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  5. Trayce Thompson, LF
  6. Avisail Garcia, RF (1-for-6, HR, 2 K’s)
  7. Geovany Soto, C
  8. Mike Olt, 3B
  9. Carlos Sanchez, 2B (1-for-4)

P: Jeff Samardzija

Sunday’s lineup: Tigers vs. Royals

Day off after two walk-off celebrations for Ian Kinsler. Andrew Romine gets the start at second base and bats second. Victor Martinez starts at first base. The Royals give Alex Gordon (mired in an 0-for-15 slump) and Salvador Perez a day off, and give Alcides Escobar an extra day to recover from his left elbow bruise.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Kris Medlen)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (3-for-6)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-1)
  5. Victor Martinez, 1B (1-for-3)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Tyler Collins, LF
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Alfredo Simon

sluggerrrrROYALS (career numbers against Simon)

  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B (3-for-14, triple, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  2. Lorenzo Cain, CF (1-for-3, 2 K’s)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-6, 2 doubles, HR, walk, K)
  4. Kendrys Morales, DH (1-for-3, double)
  5. Mike Moustakas, 3B (2-for-6, double)
  6. Alex Rios, RF (0-for-2)
  7. Paulo Orlando, LF
  8. Christian Colon, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Drew Butera, C (0-for-3, walk, K)

P: Kris Medlen

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

Nick Castellanos returns to the lineup after missing the previous two starts with left groin tightness. So, too, does Dixon Machado, who had been dealing with left hamstring tightness all week. The Royals, meanwhile, are missing shortstop Alcides Escobar, who left last night’s game with a bruised elbow. Omar Infante’s oblique injury, meanwhile, restores Ben Zobrist to everyday action at second base.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports 1, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Edinson Volquez)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (4-for-7, double, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-15, double, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (3-for-5, double, 3 walks)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-9, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-14, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-7, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Tyler Collins, LF (2-for-5, 2 doubles, K)
  8. Alex Avila, C (1-for-6, HR, 2 K’s)
  9. Dixon Machado, SS

P: Matt Boyd

royalsbigrlogoROYALS (numbers against Boyd)

  1. Alex Gordon, LF (0-for-0, walk)
  2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (5-for-7, walk, K)
  3. Lorenzo Cain, CF (3-for-8, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-6, double, walk, K)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH (5-for-7, double, triple)
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B (1-for-6, double)
  7. Jonny Gomes, RF (0-for-1)
  8. Salvador Perez, C (1-for-6, K)
  9. Christian Colon, SS (1-for-1)

P: Edinson Volquez

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Royals

Nick Castellanos (left groin tightness) and Dixon Machado (left hamstring tightness) will get one more day out of the Tigers lineup. Castellanos took grounders with defensive coordinator Matt Martin Friday afternoon and felt better, but manager Brad Ausmus decided to play it cautious. Machado did some infield work during batting practice.

On the Royals side, Lorenzo Cain gets a night off, which isn’t all that bad given that he’s 0-for-7 off Justin Verlander this season and 7-for-27 for his career.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

tigerslogoTIGERS (numbers off Johnny Cueto)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (4-for-13, triple, 3 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-13, double, triple, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (3-for-6, HR, K)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-13, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-16, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Tyler Collins, LF (3-for-10, 3 doubles)
  7. Jefry Marte, 3B (2-for-4, walk)
  8. James McCann, C (1-for-7, walk, K)
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (0-for-3, K)

P: Justin Verlander

royalschampionslogoROYALS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Alex Gordon, LF (17-for-79, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 10 walks, 28 K’s)
  2. Mike Moustakas, 3B (10-for-53, HR, walk, 11 K’s)
  3. Kendrys Morales, DH (11-for-30, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 7 K’s)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (17-for-65, 5 doubles, triple, HR, 4 walks, 11 K’s)
  5. Salvador Perez, C (20-for-41, 7 doubles, 2 HR, 6 K’s)
  6. Alex Rios, RF (17-for-46, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 4 walks, 10 K’s)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (4-for-25, double, HR, walk, K)
  8. Paulo Orlando, CF
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS (12-for-63, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 5 K’s)

P: Johnny Cueto


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