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Ausmus finally gets Gold Glove

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by coma, Mar 17, 2002.

  1. coma

    coma Contributing Member

    Jul 17, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Ausmus is one of my favorite players, I'm happy he is getting recognition.



    Ausmus finally recognized with Gold Glove
    Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Brad Ausmus has a gorgeous "trophy-movie room" in his San Diego home. And most fans and memorabilia collectors would love some of the mementos he has collected.

    There are several autographed baseballs from players such as Craig Biggio and other current and former teammates of Ausmus. The big prizes are the autographed jerseys of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and future Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. Ausmus also prominently displays the jersey he wore at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston, his first and only All-Star appearance.

    The room has a drop-down screen for his extensive movie collection, but there's only one problem with Ausmus' trophy-movie room.

    "I'd like to call it a trophy room," he says, "but I don't have any trophies."

    No trophies? After being in the majors since 1993 and in professional baseball since 1988, Bradley David Ausmus had not earned one trophy to put in a trophy case, much less enough to fill a trophy room. That will change for the Astros catcher when he receives the Gold Glove Award he won for his work behind the plate in 2001.

    "I do have an idea where I'll put it," said Ausmus, 32, who immediately called his parents, Harry and Lin, after he learned of the honor last fall. "I think working with the pitchers is the most important aspect of a catcher. Now I have to see how big it is, but I definitely have the room for it."

    Less knowledgeable baseball fans might have focused on Ausmus' horrid hitting last year, but the folks who know the game understood the impact he had on the Astros' young pitching staff.

    "You don't realize how good he is until you have somebody else catching you," said Roy Oswalt, one of the young phenoms nurtured by Ausmus. "You realize how much confidence he gives you. He gives me 10 times more confidence out there. You feel like you can throw anything and he'll go get it."

    Ausmus started 120 of the Astros' 162 games, throwing out 41 of 86 (.477) potential base-stealers. Of the major-league catchers who had at least 60 runners attempt to steal against them last season, only Cincinnati's Jason LaRue threw out a higher percentage (.609).

    Even Ausmus' hitting picked up in the second half. After batting .194 before the All-Star break, he hit. 277 in the second half to finish with a .232 average, five home runs and 35 RBIs.

    "I've learned to separate the two," Ausmus said of his hitting and defense. "When I was younger, it was something that was impressed upon me early. You always have to separate your defense from your hitting."

    Ausmus couldn't remember it, but he passed along that bit of advice to top Astros catching prospect John Buck. Until they reassigned him Tuesday, the Astros had the 6-3, 210-pound minor leaguer next to Ausmus' locker.

    Buck, 21, was nervous early on, trying not to make a bad impression during his first camp. Yet he wanted to pick Ausmus' brain. If Buck lives up to the potential many scouts believe he has, he could be ready for the majors by 2004. But the road to the majors is littered with obstacles and lessons. And Buck made sure to learn from Ausmus.

    "He's full of knowledge," Buck said. "He just doesn't remember what he imparts. I'm 21 and hanging out with Brad Ausmus. I'm already picking up things from him. What else could I ask for?"

    Buck will aspire to win a Gold Glove, and he'll likely hope to win it quicker than it took Ausmus.

    Ausmus was second in the National League voting in 1998 to then-Dodger Charles Johnson, who received six more votes from the coaches and managers. He played part of the 1996 season and all of the 1999 and 2000 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Competing against Texas' Ivan Rodriguez made it almost impossible for Ausmus to win an American League Gold Glove.

    "Pudge is possibly the best the game has ever seen," Ausmus said. "Really, the only way you'll win it with Pudge is if he misses the whole season. Because even if he plays a portion of the season, he'll be recognized as the best in the league. He shuts down the running game with his reputation alone."

    Ausmus stood out in his return to the NL last season. Few could match the way he handled a pitching staff that was inexperienced and ravaged with injury.

    Kent Bottenfield, Jose Lima and Octavio Dotel were in the starting rotation at the start of last season, and Scott Elarton was the opening-day starter. Shane Reynolds was steady once he got off the disabled list, but the stars were Wade Miller and Oswalt, one playing his first full season in the majors and another debuting in May.

    Rookies Tim Redding and Carlos Hernandez followed, and veteran Dave Mlicki revived his career after he was traded from Detroit and rejoined Ausmus.

    "He's good not only skill-wise, but the intangibles," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "I just knew he was a pain in the butt, but that's as a compliment."

    Fortunately for Ausmus, he finally received the greatest compliment a catcher can get for defense.

    "It's nice to be recognized by people in the game," he said. "Those are people who generally know the game and understand the intricacies of the game."

    chron.com link

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