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Tigers manager Brad Ausmus comfortable taking over for Leyland at helm of AL Central champs

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LAKELAND, Fla. - Brad Ausmus is ready to establish his own style as Detroit Tigers manager. For one, he will not be growing a moustache like his predecessor Jim Leyland.

"I used to have a moustache like Jim. I also wore Ray-Ban sunglasses," Ausmus said Friday before he met with the pitchers and catchers. "Time for a change."

Ausmus spent his first day as a manager at any level trying to look as comfortable as he can. Not easy when the job is replacing a possible Hall of Famer who won 700 games and two pennants in eight seasons as Tigers manager.

Ausmus regularly texts with Leyland.

"We've been talking and I know he'll be down here," Ausmus said. "He has been fantastic. Things will be different, but I look forward to talking with him."

A catcher for 18 big league seasons, Ausmus had the reputation for being a team leader. He feels it's Plenty of experience for giving his first talk to the three-time AL Central champions.

"I've been preparing for that talk for more than 20 years," Ausmus said. "I have been through all of this as a player. I am ready."

He's also ready for the 162-game grind.

"You are going to go through losing stretches throughout the season," Ausmus said. "It is going to happen, but the way to handle it is to not let a five-game losing streak turn into a six-game losing streak. I'm very fortunate to be here."

NOTES: Ausmus said that DH Victor Martinez will get some time in at catcher this season, especially since the Tigers first road trip is to Los Angeles and San Diego. Ausmus said Martinez was "thrilled" to get a chance at catching and subbing for starter Alex Avila when needed. "I can't keep (Martinez) out of the lineup for five straight games," Ausmus said. Ausmus added that he would have no problem moving Cabrera to third base and letting Martinez play first. ... Ausmus said he doesn't care what the Tigers players call him as long as it isn't 'coach." He said "Aus" would work just fine. ... Ausmus said he was excited to see so many of his position players show up early. "Maybe it's the weather we have down here but it's great to see everyone showing up earlier than normal," he said. "I haven't seen this before." ... Tigers RHP Max Scherzer, coming off a Cy Young Award in 2013, told reporters he won't negotiate a new contract during the season if a deal isn't reached by opening day. Scherzer can become a free agent after this season.

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