A.J. Hinch issued a lengthy mea culpa this week for not stopping Astros players from stealing signs in 2017. The remorse came forth in an interview with MLB Network's Tom Verducci that aired Friday night.
"Right is right and wrong is wrong, and we were wrong," he said of his and the players' actions.
Hinch said repeatedly that he failed as a leader. "I still feel, and I'll always feel, responsible as the man out front," he said.
He confirmed that he tried to convey his opposition to the scheme by twice smashing monitors inside Minute Maid Park that players used to intercept signs. The players would then relay the signs to hitters through various means, including by banging on a trash can. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in his report about the sign-stealing that players told him they would have stopped had Hinch told them directly to do so.
"I should have had a more forceful interaction (with players) at the appropriate time, which would have been right when I found out" that the sign-stealing was taking place, said Hinch, who was suspended by Manfred for the 2020 season and then fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.
Hinch addressed a number of key questions from Verducci about the sign-stealing. Here are his answers to five of those questions.
Hinch would not say the Astros' 2017 World Series championship was tainted
"It's a fair question and people are going to have to draw their own conclusion," he said. He added that he hopes the players' talent will eventually prove "that it wasn't."
"Unfortunately, we opened that door as a group and we may never know," Hinch added. "Unfortunately, no one can really answer that question. I can't pinpoint what advantages (the Astros gained) or . . . what exactly would have happened otherwise, but we did it to ourselves."
For the first time, A.J. Hinch talks about the Astros investigation.
See Tom Verducci’s full sitdown with the former manager, Friday at 6pm ET on MLB Tonight. pic.twitter.com/EBIRDmHGFJ
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 6, 2020
Hinch denied the players used whistling to relay signs against the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS
"We weren't," Hinch said. "When I sat at that podium (at Yankee Stadium and addressed the allegation), I'm going to defend this group of players, and that's my job, and that's how I felt. I didn't like the line of questioning. It was uncomfortable. I came out firm."
Hinch was less direct about whether Astros players wore buzzers inside their jerseys last year
"We got investigated for three months and the commissioner's office did as thorough an investigation as anyone could imagine as possible. I know that (Manfred) mentioned the e-mails and the texts and the messages, and I believe him," Hinch said. MLB announced it found no evidence that players wore buzzers.
Hinch regrets that whistleblower Mike Fiers felt he had to go public
"I wish I would have had an environment and a culture that was better for him to have come to me in real time and I wish I could have done better to maybe get that nudge that maybe I needed help, to get that nudge to make better leadership decisions, so I focus on that," Hinch said. He did not address whether Fiers was right to disclose the scheme to the media; many players have been critical of Fiers' actions.
Hinch wants to manage again
"I think it's going to be up to other people to determine whether or not I'm the right fit," he said, "but I love managing. I love players. I love the competition. . . . I love being in the center hubcap of that wheel that makes it all go around."