HOUSTON (AP) — That new contract A.J. Hinch got from the Houston Astros also came with a huge set of expectations.
“When I hired A.J., at the press conference, I said, ‘A.J.’s going to be our manager when we win the first World Series for Houston,'” general manager Jeff Luhnow said Thursday.
“I’m now telling you that A.J. is going to be the manager when we win the second and hopefully the third World Series for Houston,” he said.
The reigning champion Astros — and current AL West leaders — rewarded Hinch with a deal that extends his run in the dugout through the 2022 season. His contract had been set to expire after this year with a club option for 2019.
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Astros stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman were among the players who attended the announcement at Minute Maid Park. The group sat toward the back of the room and Hinch made sure to thank them.
“I wouldn’t be here and I certainly wouldn’t be getting this opportunity if it wasn’t for you,” Hinch said. “This game is about players it will always be about players and to be your manager is by far the best job I’ve ever had in baseball.”
The 44-year-old Hinch guided Houston to its first crown last season. He took over in 2015 and has led the Astros to a regular-season record of 353-266 and two playoff appearances.
“To be the manager of the Houston Astros means the world to me and it has since the day Jeff and Jim hired me to be here,” Hinch said. “That goes to the business ops people, baseball ops people, the people behind the scenes, the clubhouse personnel, the training staff and ultimately the players I am fortunate enough to lead.”
“Who wouldn’t sign up to be the manager of the Houston Astros?” he said.
The Astros led the AL West by 2 1/2 games over Oakland going into Thursday night’s home game against the Angels.
“I’m not going to let these two down,” Hinch said, referring to Luhnow and Astros owner Jim Crane.
The former major league catcher previously managed the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Luhnow says Hinch “is aligned with the vision of our front office, has made a great connection with our players, and has earned the respect of everyone in the clubhouse.”
Said Bregman: “He believes in his players and he trusts his players. Those are two things that are really the most important.”