Ausmus has full confidence of Avila, Tigers
DETROIT -- When it came time for Tigers general manager Al Avila to determine the future of Brad Ausmus, he gave the manager a thumbs up. Avila, who's been on the job for two months after taking over for his longtime boss Dave Dombrowski in August, explained the move in a statement on the final Saturday of the regular season. On Thursday, in a media session to review the entire year, the new GM explained his reasoning.
First of all, Avila said the decision was "in my mind 24/7" after saying, when he took the job, that Ausmus would be retained through the end of the season.
"I had the authority to keep him or not keep him," said Avila, who received the blessing of owner Mike Ilitch to determine Ausmus' fate. "It was up to me to decide. That's why it was 24/7."
On the one hand was the undeniable disappointment of what turned out to be a last-place 74-87 record after four consecutive American League Central titles -- the last of which occurred in Ausmus' rookie season as manager. On the other hand was dedication.
"I'm very proud of how they all held it together through the worst of times," said Avila. "Brad showed me he was a tough guy who can get through almost anything,"
What he got through in 2015 were the injuries that ended closer Joe Nathan's season early and rendered Justin Verlander unable to pitch until June and inconsistent until August. Victor Martinez was slowed all season, to varying extents, as well.
Then came the non-waiver Trade Deadline deals that sent David Price to the Blue Jays, Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets and closer Joakim Soria to the Pirates.
Throughout the turnover, Ausmus went about his job as if dedication was all he could control -- which was virtually correct.
"I'd see Brad and his staff before a game, and going into a series, I'd see how he personally got involved one-on-one with the players -- especially the young guys," said Avila. "Through all the bad stuff, he never stopped working that way.
"That involvement and that dedication told me this guy is engaged -- and that guys were responding to him."
That's why Ausmus is back and why the Tigers didn't conduct a search in case the decision had gone against him. As it was, said Avila, there weren't even feelers sent out to likely candidates.
"No, we did not talk to one, single, solitary person."