A.J. Hinch was never given his Major League Baseball managerial floaties.
The then-34-year-old was pushed into the deep end of the Chase Field pool by the Arizona Diamondbacks back in May of 2009 having never managed or coached a team at any level. Less than 14 months later he was fired after the D-backs stumbled out to a 31-48 start in 2010.
Now the even-keeled Hinch is back on the bench leading the resurgent Houston Astros after taking over as manager in late September last year.
“He is a completely different person,” ESPN MLB insider Pedro Gomez told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat during his weekly interview Wednesday morning. “He learned so much from his time [in Arizona].”
One of Hinch’s self-admitted downfalls in the desert according to Gomez was his insistence on “showing everyone that I was in charge,” a nearly impossible task when taking over in-season without any experience handling even the every day simple responsibilities like filling out a lineup card.
Hinch has taken the bumps and mis-steps in Arizona and pulled back the reigns on the young, talented Astros who currently lead the American League West. Just don’t think for a second he isn’t the one calling the shots.
“People think I’m just an extension of [Astros GM] Jeff Luhnow,” Hinch told Gomez in a recent interview. “I can’t underscore it enough: not once has he told me who to play or not to play. We have debates often and disagree but at the end of the day I respect him and he respects me. It’s a great working relationship.”
For Hinch sinking was never an option.
The 40-year-old is now helping Houston swim laps around their AL West foes.
No floaties needed.