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Ausmus catches up with former batterymate Sparks

Ausmus catches up with former batterymate Sparks play video for Ausmus catches up with former batterymate Sparks

DETROIT -- Brad Ausmus spotted Steve Sparks through the crowd of reporters at his pregame media session and remembered.

"Hey, last time we were here, you were pitching to me," Ausmus said.

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This is actually true. The last time Ausmus and Sparks were at Comerica Park together, they were batterymates for a game against the Twins on the next-to-last day of the 2000 season. That was the first year of the ballpark.

Of course, they were in the clubhouse then. On Monday, they were in the manager's office -- Ausmus running the Tigers, Sparks calling Astros games on the radio.

"Last time I was in here, I was getting released," Sparks retorted.

That was a few years later, long after Ausmus had been dealt to Houston.

Ausmus caught Sparks nine times in that 2000 season, which places him ninth on the 28-man list of Sparks games caught. Ausmus is the third former-Sparks-catcher-turned-Major-League-manager, joining Mike Matheny and A.J. Hinch.

Unlike a lot of Major League catchers, Ausmus said he never had much of an issue catching a knuckleball. Sparks apparently didn't have much problem pitching to him, posting a 3.25 ERA and a 2.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in games Ausmus caught.

"I did use a different glove," Ausmus said. "As a matter of fact, Sparky gave me the glove. Most knuckleballers travel with a knuckleball glove, and I kept it and I used it for all the knuckleballers I caught after that."

Asked to describe the difference between that and his regular catcher's mitt, Ausmus said, "Imagine that a catcher's mitt and a first baseman's mitt had a baby."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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