Ausmus, Tigers assemble for team meeting
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has always downplayed the value of team meetings in baseball. Too many meetings, Ausmus has said, and players will tune out.
After Friday's 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays, a game in which the Tigers looked anemic in their first game out of the All-Star break, it was time.
Signs about the meeting greeted players in the clubhouse Saturday afternoon about three hours before first pitch. The gathering consisted of Ausmus, members of his coaching staff and players.
"I was there," Ausmus said later on Saturday. "That's about all you'll get out of me."
General manager Al Avila was seen walking with Ausmus out of his office shortly after the meeting.
While no one who attended the meeting spoke about what the message was from Ausmus and Co., it's not hard to guess from the circumstances. The Tigers entered Saturday having lost six of their past nine to fall 10 games under .500 for the season with 74 games to go. More importantly, they have just two weeks before baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline, with an aging roster, several potential trade pieces and a front office that has made it clear a youth movement is coming sooner or later.
With the Tigers listening to trades for their veteran core, it's on players to demonstrate why the team should be kept together for the stretch run. Friday wasn't a good start.
"It's the chicken and the egg, though," Ausmus said. "What comes first? In my experience, generally, something happens in the game on the field that generates that electricity or that energy, and then the ball gets rolling. We just haven't gotten that."
Ausmus said Friday he has yelled and screamed, but he cautioned that such outbursts only work so often.
"This isn't football, where before each game on Sunday they have a rallying cry," Ausmus said. "You don't have a lot of meetings in baseball. It's too long of a season, and if you have too many, they fall on deaf ears. So in baseball, they're generally a rare occurrence. I think [Tigers special assistant] Jim Leyland is the one who said, 'If you find a team that has a lot of meetings, it's probably not a very good team.'"
• Daniel Norris came out of his bullpen session feeling relatively healthy, but he'll need to throw another one Sunday morning before the staff decides whether to start him Tuesday at Kansas City.
"His bullpen didn't pass the litmus test of being ready to pitch right away," Ausmus said, "so he's going to have to throw another one."
• Ian Kinsler returned to the Tigers' lineup Saturday after missing Friday's game with flu-like symptoms.