After Wednesday afternoon's impressive victory over the Oakland Athletics concluded a significant series sweep, it was obvious that Detroit Tigers' boss Brad Ausmus would be in a good mood.
However, when it was asked what the manager liked and didn't like about his team at the midway point of the season, he flat out decided to share the love.
"What do I like? Everything," Ausmus said quickly. "It's the quality of the people I like the most," Ausmus said, noting everyone from the players down to the staff. "They don't whine. They don't moan. There's nothing I don't like."
It's easy to understand, then, why Ausmus was so excited about taking on the Tigers' opportunity last November. The highly professional roster would allow him to cut his teeth. Essentially, coming off the leadership of Jim Leyland, Detroit's club runs itself considering the wide reach of veteran leadership the team employs. This is a fact not lost on the manager.
"They want to win—they want to win championships," Ausmus said. With the Tigers, it seems there is much self-motivation at play in 2014. Prior to Wednesday's game, Ausmus spoke about texting a struggling Torii Hunter with news that he'd be moved down in the order. Hunter, as most would expect, took the news exceptionally well.
It was no coincidence that immediately after, Hunter put on a show on the field, collecting three hits and three RBI's and leading Detroit's win. As Ausmus can attest, in Detroit, even the name stars are selfless, and do whatever he might ask them to on a given day. That leads to winning more often than not.
Such players, like Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander make running a big league ball club for the first time easy. Take Verlander. For the better part of two months, public struggles with mechanics have consumed the once overpowering pitcher. The rebound has been slower than most would expect. Ausmus, however, still spoke calmly afterwards about the effort the pitcher has put in.
"It's a process trying to straighten out mechanics. He's still working through it," Ausmus admitted. Nobody's throwing anyone else under the bus, regardless of what's going on. That's helping Verlander know he has the time to right the ship, and also helps lead the team through the pitfalls of the type of struggles they endured for the better part of late May and June.
How interesting on the same day Ausmus shared the love regarding the professionalism of his team, another rookie manager was in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Matt Williams has his hands full with the Washington Nationals. Need proof? Just read this piece by Ken Rosenthal, which documents the problems Williams is having with Bryce Harper. It's a soap opera in the making.
In Detroit, there's nothing but veteran leadership oozing from the crevices. Need a new designated hitter? Hunter will do it. Want to give the veteran Martinez a few extra days off to rest an ache? Though the competitor is itching to play, he doesn't complain. What if Verlander doesn't rebound as fast as everyone else expects? Hey, it's a process, allow him the hard work needed to get there.
Whatever Ausmus asks, these Tigers will do. The players are giving their complete effort on the field for their new manager, win or lose. Considering the comfort level everyone had with the veteran Leyland, that's quietly a significant development four months into the biggest professional grind in sports.
Ausmus, so far, is doing a fantastic job juggling individual personalities. To the team's credit, they've not only given their rookie manager a chance, but are allowing him to do his job to the best of his abilities, as well.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.Tags: Baseball, Brad Ausmus, Bryce Harper, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander, Matt Williams, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez