Astros manager Hinch credits D-backs experience for success in Houston
It’s safe to say that Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch is having a better time right now than he did during his first stint as a big league skipper with the Diamondbacks.
Coming off a World Series win running the Astros, Hinch joined the Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM’s Arizona Sports Station to discuss his journey in 2017 and a look back at this time in Arizona.
Hinch was a surprising and controversial hire in 2009, having no coaching or managing experience. That, often times, made the story more about him than his own players.
“The situation in Arizona was unique and because of the volatility around my hire it became a lot about me,” Hinch said. “It became a lot about the manager position and everyone’s opinion on the manager and what I realized the next time around is this game is about players.”
Hinch was fired midway into his second season after a 31-48 start followed a 70-92 debut season.
He went on to say having himself consistently in the narrative surrounding the D-backs helped give him the proper perspective on what the focus of the team should be on.
“I think not having to answer the question of why me or not having to answer the questions of a broken press conference to start my tenure or my age or my youthful looks or anything like that – it became about the players,” Hinch said.
“And the more you make this about players, the more you invest your time about getting the most out of them, the better they respond to you. I think that situation created itself by me having a little bit of experience.
“Having gone through the Arizona experience and understanding, yes, the manager position is front and center, yes, I have to answer all the questions and probably get too much praise and criticism in this job, but this game is about players, you have to connect with them. If you don’t and the clubhouse sours then you’re not going to win anything.”
After leaving the D-backs, Hinch was very conflicted. He had most of his experience in the front office, and called his time in Arizona “sort of a forest fire.”
Spending time with the San Diego Padres in another front office role is what Hinch says rekindled his passion for managing.
“Bud Black (San Diego’s manager at the time) was one of the first guys to invite me back on the field, put some shorts and a t-shirt on, and work with the catchers and my passion started to be sort of sparked again that this is where I need to be,” Hinch said. “I’ve worn a uniform more than I’ve worn a suit.”
It’s a good thing that came back for Houston’s sake, as Hinch led the team to its first-ever championship.