Amid tough stretch, Ausmus confident in club

Tigers manager not thinking about possible moves at Trade Deadline

May 28th, 2017
"I still like the team. I think it's a good team," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday. (AP)Carlos Osorio/AP

CHICAGO -- On this day last year, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus found himself in a similar predicament.

His team had just survived a stretch that dropped it six games below .500, and the Tigers battled back to 24-24 and fourth place in the American League Central. He fielded questions about the future of a high-priced roster and tried to quell concerns about starting a rebuild.

His message this season? That 2016 team finished 11 games above .500 and within a game of the postseason.

Ausmus sat in the manager's office at Guaranteed Rate Field before Sunday's 7-3 loss to the White Sox facing many similar questions, notably: When is the breaking point for a club with the fourth-highest Opening Day payroll?

The Tigers enter Monday's series opener in Kansas City at 23-27, having lost seven of their past 10 and in the midst of a three-city road trip that started 2-6. They sat five games behind the first-place Twins, just 1 1/2 games ahead of the last-place Royals.

Ausmus isn't going to sound the alarm bells just yet, even with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline just two months away and plenty of large contracts on the books.

"I don't really worry about that at all, to be honest with you," Ausmus said. "I try to win every day. You come to the ballpark every single day, and your urgency is to win that day. I'm not really concerned about the Trade Deadline or anything like that unless someone asks me about it."

Ausmus cited last season's May struggles, in which the team went 11-17, as a reason for optimism heading into June.

"What was our record last year at about this time?" he said. "We hit a slide last year, and we still finished how many games over .500? I just don't get caught up in that. It's pretty similar [to last year]. We were having similar discussions last year as to whether guys would be traded at the Deadline or not."

Detroit hit its stride in June last season, finishing above .500 every month to wrap up the season and get to the doorstep of the postseason. With the roster another year older and the hot-hititng Alex Avila and reliable outfielder J.D. Martinez among those primed to hit the free-agent market in the offseason, the Tigers will need another push to avoid likely becoming sellers at the Deadline.

Ausmus voiced confidence that his team is built for such a run.

"I still like the team. I think it's a good team," he said. "We have ebbs and flows. Sometimes you play well, sometimes you don't, but water finds its level, and if it's a good team, we'll win. I just don't worry about that at all."