DETROIT -- A day after Angels manager Brad Ausmus led his new club against his former one, one of his former players compared his former skipper to his current one during the Tigers’ annual luncheon at the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday. Nicholas Castellanos spent his first four full Major League seasons playing under Ausmus, then his last season-plus under current Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire.
Asked during a question-and-answer session by Hall of Fame pitcher and current Tigers television analyst Jack Morris what has changed in the clubhouse between his two former managers, Castellanos noted the different personalities.
“Brad is more analytical. He’s very intelligent. But sometimes he doesn’t communicate his feelings very well,” Castellanos answered. “It’s not his fault. It’s just how he is. But he’s great at being the way that he is. And without question, he’s a great manager.
“Gardy is a better communicator. He’s more available and he relates to his players more and he makes guys feel more comfortable, which I think is important when you have an inexperienced team. A team needs that, they need that comfort feeling from their skipper. That’s important.”
Castellanos later clarified to reporters what he meant, using a game from his rookie season as an example. After striking out in his first three at-bats against Indians ace Corey Kluber on July 19, 2014, Castellanos said Ausmus deadpanned that he’d better get a hit or he might be out of the lineup the next day.
“I got it,” said Castellanos, who doubled off Kluber in his final at-bat of that game. “I’m not one to take things personally whatsoever. The smirk towards the end also helped.”
It’s a different style than Gardenhire, Castellanos said, but the two personalities also fit the rosters they were managing -- a veteran-laden roster in Ausmus’ case, a largely inexperienced roster in Gardenhire’s situation.
“I love Brad. He was my first manager. I’ve grown a lot from him,” Castellanos said. “He called me in his office and had hard conversations with me that I needed to hear as a young player, and I responded well to them.
“But I also think, too, having a lot of young players that don’t have a lot of at-bats, who don’t know themselves yet in the big leagues, that are still worrying, ‘Can I play here? I want to stay here.’ For those kids that are caught on the bubble of going to Triple-A, up and down, there’s a lot of internal pressures that a player can put on themselves, and I think that when you have a clubhouse like that, a style like Gardenhire can be beneficial.
“Not one is right. Not one is wrong. It’s just two different styles of managing.”
Castellanos also recognizing how those styles might be perceived outside the clubhouse as opposed to inside.
“Brad is who he is,” Castellanos said. “You guys know him from dealing with him when he was here. There’s a lot of people that really like Brad exactly the way he is. There’s other people who say he’s kind of a [mean guy] or whatever. Those are their opinions of those people. I like Brad a lot. I think he’s a great manager, and I think Gardy’s a great manager. It’s not my job to pick who manages this team.”
Gardenhire returns after allergic reaction
Gardenhire had his usual sense of humor back by the Detroit Economic Club luncheon Wednesday afternoon, even if his health wasn’t totally back to normal.
“Feeling all right, other than my fat lips,” said the Tigers manager, who left the dugout during Tuesday’s loss to the Angels with swelling and hives from an allergic reaction.
Gardenhire still isn’t entirely sure what caused the reaction, possibly something he ate before the game. He initially suspected the coffee in the clubhouse, he said, because he thought he had accidentally grabbed the pot of coffee Daniel Norris brews.
“Norris has his special coffee, his herbal coffee,” Gardenhire said. “And he leaves his pot up there.”
However, Norris supposedly doesn’t brew it on days he pitches due to his pregame preparation, so Gardenhire ruled that out.
Whatever it was, the symptoms came on quickly. The swelling and rash began by game time and worsened until he had to leave the dugout to find the team doctor. He stayed in the doctor’s office the rest of the game while taking Benadryl to reduce the swelling.
Gardenhire was back in the dugout Wednesday night, likely picking his coffee carefully.
• Josh Harrison (left shoulder contusion) will begin a three-game rehab assignment for Class A Advanced Lakeland on Thursday, Gardenhire said. That would put the second baseman on track to return from the injured list when the Tigers begin their next homestand Monday night against the Astros.
• Blaine Hardy, currently rehabbing his left forearm strain in Lakeland, tossed a perfect inning with two strikeouts for the Flying Tigers on Tuesday night. He’s expected to make another appearance Thursday before being evaluated for a potential return.