Ausmus looks back on pinch-hitting decision

Ausmus looks back on pinch-hitting decision

WASHINGTON -- A day after Brad Ausmus said he was in between on whether he should have used Victor Martinez as a pinch-hitter for James McCann in the eighth inning of Monday's 5-4 loss to the Nationals, expecting he'd be walked with first base open, Ausmus went the other way.

"I would say if I had to do it all over again, I'd probably just let McCann hit and see what happened," Ausmus said Tuesday. "There's going to be a handful of times -- there were a handful of times last year and probably the year before -- where you go back and think about it and go, 'Ah ... I should have done this or I should have done that.' That will be one of those times this year."

The Tigers were in a 4-4 game at the time with the potential go-ahead run on second base and two outs. Ausmus had decided to hit for McCann, a 3-for-30 hitter so far this season. When he went that direction, he knew it would come down to Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting against Nationals lefty reliever Felipe Rivero. If he pinch-hit with Martinez, the Nationals would walk him to face Anthony Gose, who would be lifted for Saltalamacchia.

That happened, and Rivero struck out Saltalamacchia to keep the game tied.

"Ultimately, you're going to end up getting Saltalamacchia at the plate," Ausmus said at the time. "I either hit Saltalamacchia right away, or I hit Saltalamacchia with two guys on instead of one. I was in between, quite frankly. I wasn't sure we'd have another opportunity to use Victor, because we're at that point in the lineup. We were coming around to the top of the lineup in the ninth inning.

"I was in between. I decided if [Nationals manager] Dusty [Baker] walked him, hopefully Salty gets a big hit with two guys on. You would end up getting Salty vs. somebody either way."

In hindsight, Ausmus said Tuesday, he probably wouldn't have been so set on hitting for McCann, letting the inning play out for another batter.

"Ideally you hope somehow McCann works his way on base and you're [at] first and second, and then you can use Vic there," Ausmus said. "But part of the reason I used him at the time was I was kind of running out of time to use him. Looking back, I'd probably just let McCann hit.

"I would describe it as I was trying to go for a knockout punch, when really I should have just been jabbing. Victor and Salty are our two best RBI guys on the bench. Like I said, if I had to do it again, I'd just let Mac hit and see what happens. If Mac gets on, then I can use Vic, fine. If he doesn't get on, then I guess you use him to hit for the pitcher, but that might not be ideal either. There might be no one on base."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.