Former Nat Lidge gives Ausmus vote of confidence
Closer says Washington managerial candidate has deep intellect, relaxed demeanor
WASHINGTON -- Even though Brad Ausmus doesn't have Major League managerial experience, former Washington reliever Brad Lidge believes Ausmus would make a great skipper for the Nationals.
In fact, Lidge compared Ausmus to Mike Matheny, who was a rookie manager when he guided the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series in 2012, before leading the club to another postseason berth in '13. Ausmus had an interview with the Nationals about their managerial vacancy on Tuesday.
"He is as bright-minded as there is in the game. People are watching Matheny and appreciate what he is doing. I think Ausmus is along those lines," said Lidge, who played with Ausmus when both were with the Astros from 2002-07. "Ausmus is a guy who has been there, done that, and has the intellect to really see the true nature of the game and see what is going on. I think very highly of him."
Lidge pointed out that when he was on the mound, Ausmus, who was the starting catcher for Houston, was the guy that was able to keep him relaxed. For example, Lidge surrendered the game-winning home run to then-Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS, and on the Astros' flight to St. Louis later that night, Ausmus went on the loudspeaker said, "If you look out the window, you will see the ball [hit by Pujols] flying in the air."
"It went a long way. He said it because he knows the game is taken very seriously, but he knows the right things to say to relax guys. That's Brad," Lidge said. "Everybody on the team laughed about it, and I finally laughed about it."
If Ausmus gets the job managing the Nationals, Lidge believes he could handle veterans such as Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, two guys Lidge played with in 2012.
"I think he would do a pretty good job. He wouldn't be afraid of managing star-caliber players, which the Nationals have a lot of," Lidge said. "He would be able to put people in a situation where he would say important things without offending them. Sometimes, you have a lot of big personalities -- and the Nationals do -- but you have to know how to talk to these guys. I know for a fact that he would have no problem doing that. I think he would be great for any managerial job in the Major Leagues."
Ausmus' interview with the Nationals went well, according to a baseball source. He is currently a special assistant for the Padres. But he was best known as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball during the 1990s and early 2000s. He won three Gold Glove Awards with the Astros and helped Houston reach the World Series in 2005.
In 2012, Ausmus was a candidate to manage the Astros, but he withdrew his name from consideration. The job eventually went to Bo Porter.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.