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Ausmus faces former team as Tigers manager

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus, in his first year as manager of the Tigers, faced his old team for the first time on Saturday during Grapefruit League action. The team name is still the same, but with a new roster, coaching staff, uniforms and even a new league in recent years, Ausmus doesn't recognize much about his former club.

"It's a little odd they're in the American League," Ausmus said. "Even in the past year, when I think of American and National League teams, it never crosses my mind that the Astros are in the American League. It's a reality now. I just need to get used to it."

Ausmus has caught more games than any other player in Astros history. He played 10 of his 18 seasons in Houston during two different stints with the club (1997-98, 2001-08) and was part of the core of the team that reached the playoffs five times with him behind the plate.

So far, his first Spring Training as manager has gone pretty smoothly.

"It's gone well," Ausmus said. "We've got some things to iron out, and I think every team does. That's why we have Spring Training."

One of the faces on the other side of the field Saturday that Ausmus knew was third-base coach Pat Listach, who played with the Astros in 1997.

"He knows the game," Listach said. "As a catcher, he called the game and he was back there and in on every pitch. It doesn't surprise me [he's a manager]."

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.

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