A.J. Hinch 'Hated Being out of the Game' During Suspension for Astros Scandal

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 18, 2021

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch watches from the dugout during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch is back in baseball after serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scheme and it didn't come a moment too soon for the former Astros boss.

As Tigers spring training gets underway in Lakeland, Florida, the opportunity to get back in the dugout has the 46-year-old feeling grateful.

"I hated being out of the game last year," Hinch told Noah Trister of the Associated Press. "I understand why, and I'm not going to take it for granted that I get to put on a major league uniform again and lead a group of guys throughout the season."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred noted in his final report on the Astros' scandal that Hinch "neither devised the banging scheme nor participated in it" but suspended him for one season because, Manfred wrote, "as the person with responsibility for managing his players and coaches, there simply is no justification for Hinch's failure to act." 

The commissioner chose not to punish any of the players involved in the scheme, granting immunity for honest testimony. 

That had some of the Astros facing yearlong criticism during last season. Hinch was partially spared the same critiques while he remained suspended. Now that he's back in baseball, he'll still have to show he's grown from the way he handled a plot to cheat MLB teams. 

It's something he's already acknowledging as he gets to work with Detroit.

"This position matters to me, this organization that's given me another opportunity—it matters to me," Hinch said. "And I'm going to take the time and the opportunity to let everybody know it. I did in our coaches meeting. I'm going today in the pitcher-catcher meeting. I'll let everybody know how important it is to stand in front of a team and be the manager, be the voice, and also be the leader that I feel like I can be."

The challenge now is to prove it. 

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