A.J. Hinch, former manager of the Houston Astros, finally saw his MLB suspension come to an end as the World Series was over. The 46-year-old soon found a new job to coach the Detroit Tigers on a multi-year contract, announced the team on Saturday.
"About 30 minutes after the World Series' last out, my phone rang," said Hinch. The call was from Al Avila, general manager of the Tigers. He wanted Hinch to go to Detroit quickly to take over the team from 63-year-old Ron Gardenhire, who decided to retire after three seasons with the Tigers.
"I'm sorry that today, that has to be a topic, and I understand why," said Hinch.
Back in 2017, Hinch led the Houston Astros to win the World Series championship and helped the team make the top contest again in 2019 (only lost to the Washington Nationals.) However, the sign-stealing scandal revealed at the beginning of this year turned everything ugly, costing Hinch his job and putting him on ban.
"I understand the question, and I understand how wrong it was, and I'm sorry about that. I've said that before, I'll say it again, I'll continue to say it. I'll never forget the feeling that I've had throughout the past year as I've navigated this with my family, but you quickly get to the exciting time of getting back and leading a group of men again and establishing what Tigers baseball's going to be all about," said Hinch.
"I started thinking right then and there when AJ and Jeff got suspended, what's going to happen to those two guys? Are those two guys going to be back in the sport? Would they be welcomed back to the sport? As time went on, and I just sort of watched from afar, how everybody that was involved with that handled themselves, I really admired the way AJ handled himself," said Christopher Ilitch, chairman, and CEO of the Tigers.
The Tigers have been struggling for years. If you think the 23-35 record last season was bad, perhaps you missed the 2019 season in which they lost 114 of 161 games. The good news was that the Tigers were able to select Casey Mize (2018) and Spencer Torkelson (2020) with the first-overall picks in the MLB Drafts.
Hinch, who has coached a 570-452 record in the majors league, carries the Tigers hope for him to replicate his success with the Astros.
"We had a pretty good knowledge of AJ, of who he was. There was never a doubt in my mind of his character, honesty – he's one of the better guys that you're going to meet in the game, or in life in general. One mistake does not determine a man," said Avila.