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A.J. Hinch spent most of his MLB Network interview with Tom Verducci owning up to not stopping the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal as the team’s manager.
Hinch, who was suspended one year by Major League Baseball before being subsequently fired by Houston, noted that the onus was on him and that he failed as a leader.
“I will always feel responsible as the man out front,” Hinch said. “It happened on my watch. I’m not proud of it. I’ll never be proud of it. But I have to own it.
“I didn’t initiate or didn’t endorse [the scheme], but as a manager, you’re in a responsibility to end it.”
Most notably, Hinch declined to definitively answer whether or not the Astros used a buzzer system to alert batters of which pitches were coming. Instead, he deferred to MLB’s statement, which found no evidence.
Also revealing is how little punishment Hinch was expecting. The former manager told Verducci that while a suspension was on the table, he didn’t know the scandal would cost him his job.
“I felt responsible from the beginning so I knew there was going to be punishment,” Hinch said. “I didn’t know to what extent. I knew I was going to be suspended to some extent. No one really knew what was going to happen. When I got the news it was a full year, that was a tough blow. That’s taking me away from the sport that I love that I’ve been around for over two decades. After that, when I met with Jim [Crane] and subsequently lost my job, that created a whole other part of the day that I didn’t anticipate.”
Hinch said he would like to manage again but will not be campaigning for jobs or staying active in the game this summer. Instead, he plans to serve his suspension quietly during the season.
The 45-year-old is eligible to return to baseball immediately following the conclusion of the 2020 World Series.
Just how likely he is to receive a job remains unknown. MLB is expected to release its report on the Boston Red Sox cheating scandal and the scope of it could help shape how the baseball world will tolerate those involved.
In any case, Hinch wants those in and outside of the game to know he won’t be taking his punishment lightly.
“I want people to know that I care,” Hinch said. “That I’m not just blowing it off and shrugging my shoulders and that I’m upset we got caught. It’s much bigger than that.”