(Reuters) – Former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who was suspended for the 2020 MLB season in the wake of the team’s sign-stealing scandal that engulfed the league, has been named as the next manager of the Detroit Tigers.
MLB in January stripped the Astros of four draft picks and fined the team $5 million for the cheating scheme, which unfolded during the 2017 season and involved employees using a live game feed to attempt to decode and transmit opposing teams’ pitch sign sequences.
The Astros also fired Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow after MLB suspended them for a season.
Hinch faced immediate questions regarding the Astros scandal at a news conference announcing his hiring on Friday.
“That’s part of my story. It’s not the Tigers story,” said Hinch. “And I understand the question and I understand how wrong it was and I’m sorry for that – I’ve said that before, I’ll say it again, I’ll continue to say it.”
The 46-year-old Hinch, who also previously managed the Arizona Diamondbacks, won the World Series in charge of the Astros in 2017. Hinch later said “we may never know” whether the cheating scheme affected the outcome of that championship.
“It was very wrong and I’ll make sure that everybody knows that I feel responsible because I was the manager and it was on my watch and I’ll never forget it,” Hinch added on Saturday.
The Tigers struggled in the most recent season, which faced numerous delays and was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finishing last in their division with 23 wins and 35 loses.
“Our fans have high expectations for their baseball team, and all of us with the Tigers are confident that today’s announcement is a big step towards returning to the on-field success they deserve,” Tigers Chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)