Former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch acknowledged his role in the sign-stealing scandal that ultimately cost him his job on Monday.
Hours after he was fired by Astros owner Jim Crane - on the heels of being issued a one-year suspension by commissioner Rob Manfred - Hinch said he accepted the punishments handed to him.
"As a leader and major-league manager, it is my responsibility to lead players and staff with integrity that represents the game in the best possible way," Hinch said in a statement obtained by Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. "While the evidence consistently showed I didn't endorse or participate in the sign-stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.
"I apologize to Mr. Crane for all negative reflections this may have had on him and the Astros organization ... I apologize to all of you (the fans) for our mistakes but I'm confident we will learn from it - and I personally commit to work tirelessly to ensure I do."
Manfred's investigation of the 2017 season found it was the team's then-bench coach Alex Cora, not Hinch, who developed the sign-sealing scheme. A video monitor was set up just beyond the dugout with a camera in center field; someone in the dugout would then hit a trash can to tip Astros hitters on what pitch was coming.
But while Hinch did not create the scheme, he also did not stop it. The 45-year-old told Manfred he smashed the video monitors on two separate occasions, but did not tell Cora or his players to stop what they were doing. Manfred wrote in his report that Hinch's inaction was enough to warrant the one-year suspension from baseball.
Hinch compiled a 481-329 record in five seasons managing the Astros. His teams reached the playoffs in four of those five years, won 100 games three times, and took home a pair of AL pennants plus the 2017 World Series championship.
Both Hinch and former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow were banned from baseball for one year and fired by the team. Luhnow issued his own statement on Monday in which he denied his personal involvement in the scheme and said he is "not a cheater."