The Detroit Tigers made things official last week, hiring 46 year old A.J. Hinch to be their new manager.
Following the resignation of Ron Gardenhire in September, the Tigers began their search for their new skipper, and Hinch’s name was always in Avila’s mind.
The team was forbidden from any formal negotiations until the end of the 2020 World Series thanks to his season long suspension stemming from the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.
The new Tigers manager appeared on “The Stoney and Jansen Show” Monday morning on 97.1 The Ticket, and described his fist conversation with Avila – and just how quickly the Tigers reached out to him after the official conclusion of the 2020 season.
“I didn’t expect Al to call 30 minutes after the last out of the World Series,” Hinch explained. “That was awesome to hear from him. He just expressed interest and said he felt like I was a perfect fit.”
Hinch then described their first face to face meeting, during which they covered a bounty of subjects.
“The first conversation over dinner with a small group of people was pretty intense,” said Hinch. “You go to dinner and Al says, ‘Today’s going to be a casual dinner and then we’ll get to the real meat of the interview the next day.’ But we dove right in and took about a two-hour dinner and turned into a five-hour interview, talking about everything from me, my history, obviously the elephant in the room is the suspension and the sign-stealing.
“We just dove right in and they showed tremendous empathy with what I went through, and I tried to show all my cards. Like, ‘This is who I am and this is what I feel like I can do.’ There wasn’t a topic that we didn’t cover over the two days I was there.”
Of course, the interview process and meeting key figures in the organization almost felt like “speed dating” for Hinch.
“It was speed-dating, so to speak, when you get into these interview processes. But I had a head’s up that they had interest,” he said.
So what would Hinch say to the fans who are still concerned regarding his role in the infamous sign-stealing scandal with the Houston Astros that resulted in his dismissal from the organization and suspension for the entirety of last season?
“I understand and I respect that people feel that way. I’m not here to tell people how to think or what to believe,” he said. “And I can understand it, because it was a major mistake in a facet that’s unacceptable in our sport and in life in general. I do think if you give somebody a chance to overcome a bad decision in the past or in my case an indecision — not coming forward — I would just say, give us a chance.
“The second thing I would tell someone who’s really, really conflicted on this is, ‘Direct that at me.’ That’s my story, that’s something that’s in my past. It’s on the back of my baseball card, it’s going to be attached to me for my career and I understand why. That’s not the Tigers. There’s a lot of good players on this team who have nothing to do with that. I understand the curiosity of what I’m about and what I can do, but on the flip side, you can love your Tigers, you can love these players, you can love the optimism of the future. That has nothing to do with them, what happened in Houston in 2017.”
– – Quotes via Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket Link – –