LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who played 10 of his 18 big league seasons with the Astros and has caught more games than anyone in club history, said his path to becoming manager deserves an assist from former Houston skipper Larry Dierker.
Dierker managed the Astros from 1997-2001, winning four division titles in his five years at the helm. Ausmus played for the Astros for much of that stretch, with the exception of a two-year stint with the Tigers in 1999-2000.
"Looking back, I played for Larry Dierker in Houston for three years, and I was a young player," he said. "And he actually handed me the reins as a catcher. It was my fourth year in big leagues, and he handed me the reins to control the running game, the first and thirds [throws]. I would call whether we threw to second or pump faked, and at the time I thought he was throwing a lot on my plate. I was only 28 years old."
Now, as he looks back as a 44-year-old first-time manager, Ausmus said he learned a lot about the game as a result.
"It was fortunate for me," he said. "A lot of catchers don't get that option at 28, they don't get that opportunity. Larry Dierker has had an impact."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.