The Detroit Tigers made things official last month, hiring A.J. Hinch as their new manager following the retirement of Ron Gardenhire near the end of last season.
And of course, now begins the process of getting to know his new players.
“This week I’ve been contacting players, starting a baseline with starting a relationship and having them tell me about the year,” Hinch said. “It’s one thing for me to look at it, but I want to hear it through their words and their eyes on what each individual guy needs to do. The strength of this team is the youthful talent. Some of them got to the big leagues potentially even sooner than advertised, sooner than they needed to be. It was a weird year to be able to do that and get some at-bats or get some innings.
The first two players he got in touch with were pitcher Matthew Boyd and slugger Miguel Cabrera, though the latter was via text message.
“I haven’t a chance to talk live to him,” Hinch said of Cabrera. “We texted back and forth. He and I will be just fine. We’ve got some mutual people…I’m going to connect with him, potentially even visit him and start to build (a relationship) face-to-face more than via phone.”
“You’ve got to have some detail with players when you contact them for the first time,” Hinch said. “You’re not going to tell them, ‘Hey, I can fix you with this one fix,’ but building that trust and relationship starts with listening first and not really telling people what we need to do.”
He said of Boyd:
“He’s someone who has had success in the past, but he’s had a little bit of a tougher stretch lately. I think the pitch usage could be a little bit more consolidated on game-planning, pitching to some strengths, some areas of the strike zone.”
Immediately after realizing he could be a candidate for the job following Gardenhire’s retirement, Hinch said he began to watch Tigers games on television. And he has some good things to say about the team’s hitters.
“I haven’t dug too deep into the them, but I do like Willi Castro coming up and having success. That’s going to be a big step forward. I think with Niko (Goodrum) there’s a ton of opportunity to clean up some of his offensive approach and his swing. His impact is felt all the time. He’s a Gold Glove defender. I’m not going to say he can catch, but he can play just about every other position you can ask him to do. With the (Jeimer) Candelario breakthrough, I want to figure out how and why and what happened and try to build off that. Daz Cameron hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can do.
“I just see guys making subtle adjustments, some with experience and some with mechanics and approach, and that will give us a better indication on where they factor in moving forward.”
– – Quotes via Evan Woodbery of MLive Link – –