Detroit Tigers owner Chris Ilitch and GM Al Avila unveil new manager AJ Hinch on October 30, 2020.
Detroit Free Press
When Verlander learned that former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch had been hired to run the Tigers, he offered knowledge in a text message Friday morning about what to expect when the team escapes recovery and starts winning again.
“There is no place like it,” Verlander said, according to Hinch. “It’s an amazing place for a loyal fan base that wants baseball to be played the right way, wants baseball to be played profitably. And they have a deep-rooted story, a love affair with the Tigers and the English D.”
[ Justin Verlander wins World Series with Detroit still close to his heart ]
Hinch was Verlander’s manager in Houston from the time he was traded by Detroit in August 2017 until the end of the 2019 season. They developed a “great relationship” with Astros, Hinch said.
Verlander directed the Tigers to a pair of appearances in the World Series. They failed in the 2006 World Series against St. Louis Cardinals, the same season Verlander was named Rookie of the Year with 3.63 ERA for 186 submissionsand then in the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
The city came together for the organization in 2006 after it returned to the off-season for the first time since 1987 under its first-year leadership, Jim Leyland.
“He said nothing but amazing things about his experiences here,” Hinch said.
Detroit reached ALCS for three consecutive years before joining ALDS in 2014 with first-year manager Brad Ausham.
In Houston, Verlander won his first World Series and the second AL Cy Young Award (his first was with the Tigers in 2011). He is 45-13 with a 2.45 ERA in 477 assists in 74 starts in his career with Astros.
“He’s forever, Hall of Fame,” Hinch told Verlander. “An amazing racer. We had amazing experiences together.”
Verlander missed the 2020 season due to Tommy John’s operation. He becomes a free agent after the next season. The Tigers traded it in exchange for three prospects: right-winger Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and hunter Jake Rodgers.
Rodgers and Cameron made their MLB debut in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and are aiming to make the list of the major leagues from spring training.
Evan Petzold is an intern for sports reporting at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.