Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Monday,
Jul 28th
Home Leisure Sports Detroit Tigers roaring with Jewish duo

Detroit Tigers roaring with Jewish duo

E-mail Print PDF

Ian KinslerBALTIMORE — The rarity arose in the initial meeting of first-year Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and his second baseman Ian Kinsler, newly traded from the Texas Rangers: a Jewish player reporting to a Jewish manager.

Ausmus was “raised the same way I was,” Kinsler learned, with an upbringing in which Judaism “wasn’t something that was completely ingrained in our lives,” the 31-year-old Arizona native said in his pronounced Texas twang.

The chat also covered Ausmus’ experiences piloting Israel’s World Baseball Classic entry in 2012, his only previous managerial job.

Both have settled in quickly in Detroit, helping to lift the Tigers to the best record in Major League Baseball as of last weekend.

Batting leadoff, Kinsler carries a .300 average and stands among the American League leaders in runs and hits.

Tigers fan Morris Amitay, AIPAC’s former executive director who came to watch Detroit sweep the three-game series here, said he can’t help but kvell over the combination of Jewish manager and player.

KINSLER wears uniform no. 3; the 5 he wore for Texas had been retired by Detroit to honor Hank Greenberg, its Hall of Fame first baseman from 1930 to 1946.

A uniform-always-dirty player, Kinsler draws ire from opponents and admiration from teammates.

He’s a welcome spark plug for a team that has ridden power hitting and dominant starting pitching to three consecutive AL Championship Series and the 2012 World Series.

In eight seasons with the Rangers, Kinsler was a three-time All-Star who helped the Western Division club reach the World Series in 2010 and 2011. In postseason play, his average is .311.

His Nov. 20 trade for first baseman Prince Fielder “was a little bit shocking,” he acknowledged while dressing for a recent game here. But playing for Detroit “is awesome,” he added.

Ausmus was hired two weeks before the trade.

Sitting in his Camden Yards office, Ausmus said his experience with the Israeli team provided “a little bit of a glimpse” into how managers build rapport with players and cultivate clubhouse camaraderie.

“In terms of preparation, I don’t know that there’s a ton of parallel because there’s so much more information [available] on Major League players than there is on WBC players — in fact, sometimes even no information on WBC players,” he said.

“I guess that in some regards you learn to make decisions you don’t really want to make [to cut players].”

The experience didn’t necessarily place him on the Major League managing track, Ausmus said.

“There are only 30 managerial jobs. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get one of those,” he said. “I’d thought of it, but I never assumed it.”

A priority heading into 2014 was getting to know his Tigers as people and players. Six weeks into the season, Ausmus said, nothing has surprised him.

That could be because of his playing experience toiling for four teams, including the Tigers, in 18 years, and winning three Gold Gloves at catcher, the thinking man’s position.

Those parallels are more apparent, Ausmus said.

“As a catcher, you’re planning ahead, you’re strategizing, you’re dealing with a pitching staff. You also know what it’s like to be an everyday player,” he said.

“As a catcher, it gives you a pretty good feel for what you would come across as a manager, for what the players are thinking, what’s going through their minds, what emotions they’re feeling.”

GIVEN his short time with Team Israel, Ausmus figured he “certainly didn’t have any impact” on several players subsequently reaching the majors, but added, “I’m happy for them.”

That’s a sentiment the Tigers echo about working alongside Kinsler and Ausmus, at 45 a generation younger than his retired predecessor, the crusty Jim Leyland.

Pitching coach Jeff Jones said Ausmus is “very low-key, doesn’t panic, doesn’t get excited when things don’t go right,” and extremely prepared.

All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander said his new manager is “more relaxed on the bench” and “totally different” from Leyland, with whom he remains close.

Kinsler, he said, brought a new dimension to the Tigers: speed. (Kinsler’s 177 steals set a Rangers record.)

“It’s been a lot of fun to watch. I love the way he plays the game,” Verlander said.

“I hated the way he played the game when he was with the Rangers and we had to play against him. That’s a sign of respect.”

Told of Verlander’s description, Kinsler was pleased.

“That’s the kind of player I want to be,” he said. “I like to cause problems. If you’re not noticed, then you’re not doing something right.”

Off the field, a synagogue in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has invited Kinsler to enroll his two children in a summer program. In Texas, Kinsler said, his daughter Rian attended a JCC of Dallas program.

Judaism is “definitely something I want to teach them about,” he said. “To have that knowledge is important.”

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 May 2014 13:53 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Letter threatens Mumbai synagogues over Gaza conflict

Marcy Oster Mumbai city police received a letter threatening to bomb Jewish sites in the city in retaliation for Israel’s operation in Gaza. ... [Link]

Writer Bel Kaufman dies at 103

Marcy Oster Writer Bel Kaufman, granddaughter of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, has died. ... [Link]

Obama tells Netanyahu he wants immediate humanitarian cease-fire

Ron Kampeas President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he wants an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian” cease-fire in the war with Gaza, based on a process Israel has made clear it oppo... [Link]

Kerry’s rejected cease-fire proposal leaked

Marcy Oster Details of the week-long cease-fire proposal U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered and Israel rejected emerged in leaks to various media outlets. ... [Link]

Israeli inquiry finds U.S. school courtyard was empty when mortar hit

Marcy Oster A mortar fired by Israeli troops in the direction of a United Nations school in Gaza, did not cause casualties as was widely reported, Israel’s military said. ... [Link]

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine

Marcy Oster Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for peace in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. ... [Link]

Brazil’s Jewish community head apologizes for Israeli spokesman’s remarks

Marcy Oster Brazil’s Jewish community apologized to the administration of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for statements by the spokesman of Israel’s foreign ministry after Brazil recalled its envo... [Link]

Madrid Jews vow legal action against author who justified expulsions

Cnaan Liphshiz The Jewish Community of Madrid said it would take legal steps against a celebrated writer who cited Israel’s Gaza operation in justifying past expulsions of Jews. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com