4/6/2014 2:30 P.M. ET
Ausmus shuffles lineup prior to road trip
By Chris Vannini and Matt Slovin / MLB.com
DETROIT -- With an off-day and the Tigers' first West Coast swing of the young season approaching, manager Brad Ausmus shook up the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Orioles.
Miguel Cabrera remained in the lineup as the designated hitter, though he surrendered first base to Victor Martinez. Ausmus said before Sunday's game that Martinez will likely catch at least one game during the upcoming Interleague series against the Dodgers and Padres.
Martinez will also likely play some first base on the trip, but Sunday's lineup was more about getting Cabrera off his feet, according to Ausmus.
"Any time you're on the field, it makes you feel a little better," Martinez said. "But I understand my role -- to get Miggy off his feet a bit."
The skipper also inserted Tyler Collins into the lineup in left field, put Andrew Romine in at shortstop and gave catcher Alex Avila his first day off. Collins and Romine each have four at-bats, and Collins is still waiting for his first big league hit.
Bryan Holaday, who has appeared in 22 games for Detroit in the past two seasons, was Justin Verlander's batterymate for the matinee. Holaday's catcher ERA in three starts with Verlander on the mound is 5.40, though Ausmus called that an overrated statistic.
"Except when I was catching," Ausmus joked.
Ausmus adjusts to managerial role in regular season
DETROIT -- Brad Ausmus is about one regular-season week into his first job as a Major League manager. Is it what he expected?
There's been no shortage of drama. The Tigers won on a walk-off on Opening Day, blew a save in the next game and nearly blew a 7-1 lead in the ninth inning Saturday. But through it all, the Tigers were 4-0 entering Sunday, the lone undefeated team in Major League Baseball. Ausmus had yet to talk to the media after a regular-season loss at that time.
More than anything, Spring Training prepared the 44-year-old former catcher for his new role.
"That's what I enjoyed when I was playing, the cerebral part of the game where you're thinking things through," Ausmus said Sunday. "It's funny. In Spring Training, it's a lot more hectic, because there are a lot more people on your lineup card and moving parts during the course of a game. In Spring Training games, I'd find where I wasn't paying attention, didn't know the count and [third-base coach] Dave Clark would fill me in.
"I've found, in these games, it comes a lot easier and a lot more intense. Part of that is because there are fewer names on the roster to worry about. You don't have to worry about getting guys in. The game dictates when they're in. I have found it's not difficult to concentrate on the game at hand."
Ausmus knows he's not far removed from his playing days, but there's no itch to be playing again. He has texted with former Tigers manager Jim Leyland a few times since Spring Training for some advice and general comments. Ausmus' favorite part of the job is the camaraderie with the team, no different from his playing days, but there's a different perspective.
"You have more on your plate pre- and postgame in terms of preparation, media," Ausmus said. "During the game, there's not that much more on my plate. When you're a player, you have a lot more going on when you're on defense. If you're not hitting in the bottom half of the inning, there's nothing to do but watch. As a manager, you do have stuff going on in the bottom and top half."
Torii's confidence never wavered despite slow start
DETROIT -- Torii Hunter has been around the block, so there was no worry when he started the season 0-for-9.
Since a groundout in the first inning Friday, Hunter reached safely in seven of his past nine plate appearances entering Sunday, including two home runs and a double.
"I always say, the same guys that hit .400 in April, look at their numbers in September. They're the same guys," Hunter said. "No matter what you do, how you start, it's how you finish. If you look at my history, I've always hit .280, .300, 20 [home runs] with 90 [RBIs]. It's going to be around there somewhere, no matter how I start. I don't panic. Just you guys."
Getting hit by a pitch Friday started the roll, followed by a solo home run. On Saturday, he drove in three runs with a double, and later hit a two-run homer.
"No matter who pitched today, I felt good," Hunter said Saturday. "When you're hot, the ball slows itself down. It doesn't matter who's pitching. You feel good, you have good at-bats. It started [Friday] with good swings and it just carried over. No matter who pitched, if I felt bad, then I'm going to be bad. Because I felt good, that's the way it goes."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.