Ausmus focused on strong finish

Skipper not worried about managerial future as season draws to close

Ausmus focused on strong finish

DETROIT -- A day after the Royals clinched their first division title in 30 years, formally taking over the American League Central crown that Detroit held for the past four seasons, the Tigers went back to work trying for a strong finish to a season that lost postseason implications a while ago. They began a series against a Twins squad they dominated for three games to open the season as part of their 6-0 start, but now look up at in the division standings as Minnesota vies for a Wild Card spot that would mark its first postseason berth since 2010.

Coincidentally, that's also the last time the Tigers were out of the postseason.

"Without question, we're disappointed with how the season went, but you still grind through it," manager Brad Ausmus said Friday afternoon. "You still have enough pride that you go out there, regardless of where you're at in the last week of the season, and you go out to win. Pitchers go out there to perform well. Hitters go out there to get hits and drive in runs. There's been no let-up. Just look at the extra-inning games we've won."

The Tigers won three consecutive extra-inning games last week, then added another on Tuesday. They won or split three consecutive series and four of their last five, the first time they went three straight series without dropping one since early June.

Although the Tigers are out of it, that might not end up making a difference in the final evaluation of Ausmus and his staff by new general manager Al Avila and ownership. But Ausmus says he isn't worried about his status at this point.

"That's not my area. That's Al's area," Ausmus said. "Al's the general manager. He decides what things are important for him in a manager, and he'll decide along with Mr. Ilitch [owner Mike], I'm sure, whether I fit those characteristics.

" ... We just come to work, and we're trying to win. We prepare the same way. Since that report [of Ausmus' impending dismissal] came out, nothing has changed. I haven't changed the way I do my work. Coaches haven't changed the way they do their work. Players haven't changed the way they do their work. Nothing has changed."

The Tigers entered Friday's series opener against the Twins with a 7-5 record since that report.

"I mean, there's probably a lot of #FireAusmus hashtags," Ausmus said, "but it's a good group of guys [in the clubhouse]. The underlying pride in Detroit for the Tigers is really unmatched. You don't see it in most other cities. I've enjoyed it. I've said all along: Despite what's written, the people around town are great with me. They really are."

That said, he knows the ultimate criteria. They didn't win, he said, and as the guy in charge, he takes the responsibility.

"I know there's an expectation to win. We didn't win," Ausmus said. "I'm the one person that you really can point a finger at, so point it at me."

No matter what happens at season's end, Ausmus wants to keep managing.

"I enjoy it," he said. "But I'll worry about the future when the past is done."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.