Ausmus ’91 hired as Tigers manager

by Josh Schiefelbein | 11/11/13 4:00pm

Ausmus will manage his first regular season game on March 31 versus the Royals.
Source: Margaret Rowland

On Nov. 3, the Detroit Tigers’ president and general manager Dave Dombrowski named Brad Ausmus ’91 the team’s manager. Ausmus agreed to a three-year deal with a club option for 2017, replacing Jim Leyland who had held the reins since 2006 and retired after his team lost in the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox this season.

“We were most impressed with Brad’s preparation and leadership, which are among his many quality attributes,” Dombrowski said in a press conference. “We are confident Brad is the right person to lead our team and continue the recent success of the Tigers organization.”

Ausmus played 18 years and 1,971 games with four different teams, including three non-consecutive seasons with Detroit. He won three golden gloves and was selected an All-Star in 1999. He is also the all-time Houston Astros leader among catchers in games played, hits and runs scored.

“I couldn’t be more excited to manage the Detroit Tigers,” Ausmus said in a statement. “It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to manage a team that went to the American League Championship the previous year. There is a lot of work to be done by spring training and no details will be glossed over. Our goal is to hopefully return to the ALCS and then take the next step.”

Ausmus takes over a team loaded with talent and playoff experience. Leyland led the Tigers to two World Series appearances and four consecutive AL Central Division titles. Consequently, the team has high expectations as they return with a core of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

“We’re not going to reinvent the wheel here,” Ausmus said. “This is a pretty darn good team. I think I would be foolish to come here and try to make sweeping changes.”

While at Dartmouth, Ausmus majored in government and was a member of Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity and Sphinx senior society. Despite being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 MLB draft, he entered the College because he wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree. He never suited up for the Big Green, however, because his minor league contract prohibited him from doing so, but still served as a bullpen catcher and volunteer coach while he was a student. The catcher graduated from the College in five and a half years.

Even though Ausmus never donned a Dartmouth jersey, the hire could have implications for Big Green baseball.

“I think Dartmouth baseball has established itself as a national recognized program and these are great examples of that,” Jeff Keller ’14 said. “Ausmus didn’t play here, but he was involved in our program and still knows Coach Whalen very well. I think this is just an example of how strong and consistent our program is.”

Ausmus’s hire could impact future recruiting classes.

“Having a Dartmouth alum hired as the manager of the Detroit Tigers is great for Dartmouth’s baseball program,” Dustin Selzer ’14 said. “One of the major effects of the Brad Ausmus hiring is that it will bring more attention to the program, which is always a good thing. Also, I’m sure Coach Whalen will love having that in his bag of tricks when he’s on the road recruiting.”

After graduation, he was re-drafted by the Colorado Rockies as part of the 1992 expansion draft. He was later traded to the San Diego Padres, with whom he made his MLB debut. After bouncing between the Tigers and Astros, Ausmus settled in with Houston from 2001-2008, where heappeared in the 2005 World Series, in which the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox. His appearance made him the fist Ivy League graduate to play in the World Series since 1916. He retired in 2010 at the age of 41 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Over his career, Ausmus posted a .251 average with 80 home runs and 607 RBI.

Ausmus carries a reputation for being a tough, hard-nosed player since he caught 18 years in the big leagues. He claims that the mental aspect came easiest to him while in the league. He never earned a grade below a “B” while enrolled at the College.

“I always enjoyed the cerebral part,” Ausmus said. “It was much more difficult to hit. That was part of the game I didn’t really enjoy.”

Ausmus has no prior managing experience in any baseball league, but managed Israel’s team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Tigers, however, hope that his knowledge from 18 years behind the plate will be just as effective, if not more.

“I was just playing the game three years ago,” Ausmus said. “I have a pretty good understanding of how the locker room dynamic is.”

Ausmus also indicated at his introductory press conference that he may use a mixture of sabermetrics and ‘old-school’ scouting to make decisions.

“I can tell you that players do not like to be inundated with numbers,” he said. “But I think if you can take some of that statistical information and grind it down into a usable piece of information that you can hand off to a player, I think that can be important.”

Prior to being named manager, Ausmus worked in the San Diego Padres’ front office as a special assistant to the general manager.

“I’m well aware that you don’t generally get dropped into a situation like I will be this coming season,” Ausmus said. “I understand I’m very fortunate. That being said, I’m not taking anything for granted. No details will be glossed over. I’m not assuming anything going into the job.”

Spring Training starts Feb. 25, with an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves on the 27th.

The Tigers open their 2014 regular season on March 31 with a six-game home stand against the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles.