Winning, not hot seat, on Ausmus' mind

June 25th, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego weather was summer-perfect for the Tigers as they prepared for Saturday night's game against the Padres. A slight breeze cooled a sun that was warm, but far from sizzling.

The temperature reading inside Tigers manager Brad Ausmus' office?

"I am not comfortable unless my [seat] is hot,'' he said with a smile.

It was a light moment for a skipper with a squad on the brink, losers of a season-high seven games. Detroit GM Al Avila said on Friday that the Tigers could be sellers at the Trade Deadline if they continue their current ways.

Will they part ways with Ausmus as well? Avila seemed to understand the restraints Ausmus is managing with this season, but that doesn't cease the chatter that Ausmus might go.

"Two things I knew for sure coming in,'' Ausmus said. "A lot of what happens with a baseball team is out of the manager's control. And when I was hired, there was a good chance I might get fired. Not many managers leave on their own terms. It's just the nature of the job.''

Ausmus is in his last year of his contract and the season hasn't matured as planned. Since getting back to the .500 mark (29-29) on June 7, the Tigers have lost 12 of their 15 games to fall into the AL Central cellar.

But Ausmus is dead-set against calling a clubhouse meeting just to check that box off.

"If it was a lack of effort or a lack of caring, then there would have to be a discussion,'' Ausmus said. "But I wish you could have been in the dugout last night; the energy couldn't have been better. They are pulling for each other; it just didn't happen.

"I don't need to tell them we haven't won lately. They are pretty aware of it. They get it. They care. They come in with good attitudes.''

The Tigers went through a similar skid last year when dropping seven straight. Ausmus stressed it's hardly uncharted territory for a team to scuffle.

Ausmus played for the 1996 Tigers that won four games in September, which included dropping 12 straight. The season ended on a six-game losing streak.

"I can't imagine what [manager] Buddy Bell was going through,'' Ausmus said. "You don't realize that as a player. You want to win, but you don't realize how much the manager and coaching staff hinges on winning and losing until you sit in this seat. That's why Jim Leyland said it was a lonely seat.''

In Ausmus' case, the inconvenient truth is his seat is warming.

"All my chairs are heated,'' he said. "I like heated seats.''

The smile was back. But Ausmus turned serious in stating he's not grabbing any white towels.

"I'm not folding up shop, that's not how I operate,'' he said. "I guess that's why I don't worry about it. You keep grinding and fighting until someone tells you, 'Hey we don't want you to grind and fight any more.'''