DETROIT (AP) — Brad Ausmus seems to be really smart, as one would expect a Dartmouth graduate to be.
The rookie manager of the Detroit Tigers is also intelligent enough to know he doesn't have all the answers, even as he got a taste of what life is like leading a team in his first week as a major league manager.
The Tigers rallied to win twice and also won in a rout. They blew a big lead in the ninth, but held on for another victory. And on Sunday, his team got beat in businesslike fashion by the Orioles.
The upshot is — and it is very early in the 162-game season — the Tigers have the best record in baseball.
In addition to a stellar rotation and superstar Miguel Cabrera, a cool, calm and collected rookie manager has something to do with Detroit's early success.
"He seems pretty laid back," right-hander Justin Verlander said. "There's no panic. He just lets the game unfold."
After ending his playing career ended in 2010, Ausmus worked in the Padres front office as a special assistant to the general manager for three years and managed Israel's team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In Detroit, he acknowledges leaning on bench coach Gene Lamont and his half-century of experience in professional baseball along with pitching coach Jeff Jones, who has been in the game for nearly four decades.
Ausmus also soaked up the opportunity to spend time with his predecessor, Jim Leyland, during spring training and relished the opportunity to exchange text messages in recent days with the World Series-winning manager.
"He's got it figured out, but he'll find out there's a lot to learn because he'll be willing to listen," Leyland said Monday of Ausmus. "I think he's a great fit, a terrific fit in fact for the Tigers."
When Leyland decided it was time to step away from managing at the age of 68 last season after winning a third straight AL Central title, Detroit president and general manager Dave Dombrowski determined Ausmus was ready to step up to accept the challenge of making a good team a World Series champion.
So far, so good.
"It doesn't seem like he's got anything to learn," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They're lucky to have him. He's going to be a good one. He already is."