DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers Friday officially made 46-year-old A.J. Hinch the 39th manager in club history, signing him to a three-year contract.
"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 statement released by the team. "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."
General manager Al Avila tabbed Hinch as a strong candidate almost immediately after Ron Gardenhire resigned on Sept. 19, that despite the fact that Hinch was serving a year-long suspension for his involvement in the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
"Coming into this managerial search we already knew that A.J.'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 A.J.'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. I'm confident A.J. is the best man for this job as we strive to bring a World Series Championship back to the city of Detroit."
Major League Baseball's exhaustive investigation of the Astros' sign-stealing methods revealed that Hinch neither sanctioned nor approved of his players using a replay monitor to decode signs and twice he destroyed video monitors with a bat.
He was suspended for his failure to stop his players from cheating and he took full accountability for that.
"Throughout the interview process it was clear that A.J. had learned from his situation in recent months, and it has changed him in profound ways," Ilitch said. "Quite frankly, it's exactly what we wanted and needed to hear. A.J. provides a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we're proud to have him lead our team."
Hinch played for the Tigers in 2003.