A.J. Hinch returns to Major League Baseball after being suspended for one year. On Friday, the Detroit Tigers hired Hinch to be their manager. Hinch was previously the manager of the Houston Astros but was suspended and fired last year for being involved in a sign-stealing scandal.
"I'd like to thank Chris Ilitch and Al Avila for giving me a chance and the opportunity to get back in the dugout to lead this historic ballclub," Hinch said in a news conference via MLB.com. "The last year was the most difficult of my life. It gave me time to reflect, which was such a big part of this process. Everything that has transpired over the past year, personally and professionally, has put so much in perspective for me, and re-enforced how important it is to do things with integrity and honesty."
Hinch replaced Ron Gardenhire who retired late last season. The team is at the start of a rebuild, and the hope is Hinch, who led the Astros to a World Series title in 2017, can turn things around. The Tigers have had four consecutive losing seasons, and the last time the team won the World Series was in 1984 when Sparky Anderson was the manager.
"Coming into this managerial search, we already knew that AJ's diverse baseball acumen, knowledge of analytics and passion for the game were second to none," Avila said. "However, we also knew there were some important conversations to have about AJ’s time in Houston. Throughout that dialogue, he was clearly remorseful and used that time to reflect on the situation, and we believe he will emerge as a better leader because of it. This ballclub is entering an extremely exciting period, with young players primed and ready to make an impact at the Major League level."
In January, the MLB announced the suspension of Hinch and then-general manager Jeff Luhnow for their involvement in cheating during the 2017 season. The due was fired from the team shortly after that, and the Astros were fined $5 million along with losing the first and second-round draft picks this year and in 2021. The Astros hired Dusty Baker to be their new manager and the team was able to reach the American League Championship Series. They lost the Tampa Bay Rays in seven games.