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Sport Hinch breaks silence in first interview since firing

10:46  07 february  2020
10:46  07 february  2020 Source:   houstonchronicle.com

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Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch acknowledged Thursday that the electronic sign-stealing scheme his team implemented during its run to the 2017 World Series title “opened the door” to questions of the championship’s legitimacy and the team “did it to ourselves.”

a man holding a sign: Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch's interview with MLB Network was his first since being suspended and fired in the wake of the team's electronic sign-stealing scandal.© Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos Via Getty Images

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch's interview with MLB Network was his first since being suspended and fired in the wake of the team's electronic sign-stealing scandal.

In his first public comments since being fired on Jan. 13, Hinch spoke with Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci in an interview that will air in full on MLB Network at 5 p.m Friday. The network aired an excerpt of the sitdown on Thursday in which Verducci asked Hinch whether the 2017 World Series title — Hinch’s only championship as a player or coach — is now tainted.

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“I hope over time it’s proven that it wasn’t,” Hinch said. “But I understand the question. It’s a fair question and people are going to have to draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, we opened that door as a group. That question may never be answered.”

Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were the only two Astros employees punished for an electronic sign-stealing ploy Major League Baseball determined was player-driven.

The league’s investigation determined that Hinch did not devise the scheme, nor did he approve of it. Players told investigators they would have stopped had Hinch asked them to.

Hinch, according to the investigative findings, found the scheme “wrong and distracting.” Twice, the manager destroyed a monitor the Astros were using to decode signs during games.

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Hinch spoke with MLB Network in his first public interview since being fired .

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“We may never know (if the World Series title is tainted),” Hinch said. “We’re going to have to move forward and be better in the sport. Unfortunately, no one can really answer that question. I can’t pinpoint any advantages or what happened or what exactly would have happened otherwise. But we did it to ourselves."

In exchange for their truthful testimony, players were given immunity from commissioner Rob Manfred during his investigation. Outcry nonetheless persists from both current and former players who thought Houston’s players warranted some form of punishment.

“We have the right to discipline players right now. I’m absolutely convinced of that fact. We made a decision in the Houston investigation that in order for us to get the facts that we needed, somebody had to get immunity,” Manfred told reporters on Thursday at the owners meetings in Orlando. “That is not a novel thought. It happens all the time in law enforcement when, quite frankly, the police have a lot more powers over people than we do. I see that as a specific decision we made in the context of that investigation in order to help us get to the bottom of what went on.”

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A similar deal was struck with Boston Red Sox players, who remain under investigation for electronically stealing signs during their 2018 World Series-winning season. Manfred told reporters he hoped to conclude that probe by the time teams begin reporting to spring training next week.

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