Brad Ausmus has been fitted for his wings.
The Los Angeles Angels plucked Ausmus from the heavenly waves off Del Mar to ride to their rescue as their manager.
Ausmus is back being a skipper in the majors after spending a year in the Angels’ front office.
“We want a championship,’’ Ausmus said.
Don’t they all, that impressive collection of men in our parts that have turned North County into a cradle of major-league managers.
Even the most ardent Dodgers hater had to feel for Cardiff’s Dave Roberts. In his third season as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Roberts, a former Padres player and coach, lost the World Series in consecutive seasons. Seemingly every maneuver he made backfired with the Boston Red Sox taking the Fall Classic in five games.
All signs indicate Roberts will return next season, which is the right move. But those jeers he heard from Dodgers fans when introduced before Game 5 didn’t go unnoticed.
No one in baseball can ignore what Bud Black, the Colorado Rockies manager, pulled off. The Solana Beach resident fell in the National League Divisional Series to the Milwaukee Brewers, but Black, the ex-Padres manager, still deserves a toast.
His offense went flat but he’s the first manager in franchise history to direct the Rockies to consecutive playoff appearances.
That circles us back to Ausmus, who was off the dugout’s top step for just a season after a four-year stint managing the Detroit Tigers. He spent his season out of uniform diving into the analytic formulas which drive baseball as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler.
Ausmus, a Dartmouth graduate, was seemingly a quick learner. He was smart enough to know the game had evolved from when he played it for 18 big-league seasons.
Old-school was old-hat to the 49-year-old Ausmus. But he wasn’t as keen on the nuances of the numbers-driven answers and the digestion of data and trends which fuel the strategies of major-league clubs.
“I needed to adapt,’’ said Ausmus, while noting how advanced the Angels are in utilizing statistics. “Analytics are part of the game and I had to adapt. I wanted to find out more on how we can help the players on the field be better and help the team win. That is why we are here, to win baseball games.’’
It’s just how clubs go about reaching that goal that has changed since Ausmus, an All-Star in 1999, first started. But the three-time Gold Glove Award winner isn’t new to tinkering with digits.
“I’ve been using numbers since 2000,’’ Ausmus said. “But the information was a lot more vague and a little more raw.’’
The Angels are banking on Ausmus being polished from his run with the Tigers, which included an American League Central division title and an overall mark of 314-322. Ausmus is eager to learn and win with the Angels.
“His curiosity, competitiveness and knowledge showed us he was the right person for the job,’’ Eppler said.
Those remarks brought a smile to Ausmus during a press conference in which he wore a suit. That it wasn’t a wetsuit solicited a chuckle from his Del Mar surfing buddies.
Ausmus is usually quick with a laugh, too, and his quote from years’ past is still among the best. While he excelled with the mitt and his noggin’, his bat wasn’t very much as a career .251 hitter.
“I feel like when they say I’m one of the smarter players, it’s just their way of saying that I don’t hit very much,’’ Ausmus said.
The Angels hope they’ve smacked a homer with the hiring of Ausmus.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis8_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports