TAMPA — The Yankees will see A.J. Hinch in a major league dugout for the first time Monday since the sign-stealing scandal that aided Houston’s World Series-winning team in 2017 became public.
The controversy cost Hinch his job — and has caused the Yankees to wonder what might have happened if the Astros didn’t cheat, since the Yankees lost to Houston in seven games in the ALCS that season.
Aaron Boone, a friend of Hinch’s, said the two have spoken since news of the garbage-can banging scandal broke, most recently in “the last several weeks.”
“I have beyond moved on from it,’’ Boone said following the Yankees’ 6-4, seven-inning loss to Toronto at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday. “Our focus is on getting ready to hopefully go out and play in a championship season. I’m not gonna get caught up in looking back to a couple years ago.”
Whether his players have gotten beyond it is another story.
Asked if he planned on saying anything to Hinch — who was banned by MLB for all of last season before getting hired by the Tigers this offseason — Aaron Judge cleverly dodged the question.
“I’ve got the day off [Monday], so I don’t think with COVID protocols I’ll be out on the field,” Judge said. “So I think I’ll be missing that one.”
Hinch managed his first game with the Tigers on Sunday, a 10-2 win over St. Louis, and tackled the issue afterward.
“I’ll just address it directly, like I have,’’ Hinch said of the narrative. “It is part of my past and I’m keeping the Tigers out of it. It has nothing to do with the Detroit Tigers. I understand it’s personal with me, but I’ll handle it. I highlighted my name for making the trip. We’re all going to go over there and I’m not going to do anything different than I’ve done in answering these questions or addressing it and apologizing and moving forward.”
Hinch has said he regrets his actions with Houston, when he destroyed a monitor the team used to cheat, but did not directly try to stop the teams use of a video system to see what pitches were being thrown.
“Certainly, I’m not going to tell people how to believe or what to believe,’’ Hinch said. “But I continue to be sorry that it was part of the game and the wrong things that we did, and then get to focusing on the Tigers.”
He added he would address the questions “by focusing on my job.”
Yankee fans likely won’t let Hinch forget about what happened, as they proved Sunday, when some appeared to boo Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., mistaking him for his brother, Yuli, who played for that Astros team.
There won’t be any cases of mistaken identity Monday.