Gregor: Why White Sox are likely to pursue Hinch as new manager

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • In this Nov. 1, 2017, file photo, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch holds the championship trophy after Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. Houston  manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the entire season Monday, Jan. 13, 2020,  and the team was fined $5 million for sign-stealing by the team in 2017 and 2018 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the discipline and strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora -- the Astros bench coach in 2017 -- will face punishment later. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros.

    In this Nov. 1, 2017, file photo, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch holds the championship trophy after Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the entire season Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, and the team was fined $5 million for sign-stealing by the team in 2017 and 2018 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the discipline and strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora -- the Astros bench coach in 2017 -- will face punishment later. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/13/2020 6:39 PM

Go ahead, get all riled up about the USA Today story linking 76-year-old Tony La Russa to the White Sox's managerial search, even though he was last in a major-league dugout in 2011.

Get excited about former Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski coming out of the FOX broadcast booth and replacing Rick Renteria, who was launched from his job on Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

React to other names that are already rumored to be on the White Sox's wish list, including Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter(?) and Jason Giambi(??).

In the recent past, the Sox have made some unusual manager hirings, ranging from Terry Bevington in 1995 to Robin Ventura in 2012. They also considered asking Paul Konerko to be player/manager at the end of this career.

Rick Hahn said he has an "open mind" and doesn't want to "cut off any avenues" in his search to replace Renteria, but the White Sox's general manager sure sounded like the field has already been severely narrowed.

"Ultimately, I think the best candidate, or the ideal candidate, is going to be someone who has experience with a championship organization in recent years," Hahn said. "Recent October experience with a championship organization would be ideal."

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Hello, AJ Hinch. And possibly, Alex Cora.

Those are the two realistic managerial contenders Sox fans should be paying attention to -- especially Hinch. There is a catch, of course.

Hinch and Cora are both suspended until the end of the World Series for their roles in the 2017-18 Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Hinch won the World Series as Houston's manager in '17 and was fired by the Astros on Jan. 13. Cora, his bench coach that year, moved on to manage the Red Sox and won the World Series in 2018.

Boston was accused of cheating with Cora in the dugout that year, stealing signs via a video replay monitor. He was fired a day after Hinch.

Cheating has long been part of major-league baseball, and Hahn was specifically asked about the Astros at SoxFest last January.

"Look, the situation is obviously unfortunate," he said. "Every team is motivated to do everything in their powers, to do everything they can to win. Traditionally, doing that based upon your your wit or insight or intellect has certainly been acceptable and is what we encourage our guys to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"When you cross that line into forbidden activity, that's obviously a different story and we certainly need to commend the commissioner's office for the thoroughness of their investigation and swiftness with which they acted."

Hinch paid a heavy price for Houston's actions, but he was remorseful and moved to tears during an interview on MLB Network shortly after losing his job.

"I regret so much about that and it's so complicated and so deep and there are parts that are hard to talk about, but taking responsibility as the manager … it happened on my watch," Hinch said. "I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it because I was in a leadership position."

It's up to the White Sox to decide if Hinch deserves to lead an up-and-coming team.

A Stanford graduate, he was a major-league catcher for seven seasons before becoming the youngest manager (34) in the majors for the Diamondbacks in 2009.

Hinch, 46, stayed in Arizona for two years before moving to Houston, where he was 481-329 over five seasons with a World Series championship and three other trips to the playoffs.

The Tigers are looking for a new manager and are interested in Hinch, but he would likely see the Sox as a much better fit.

"I think, quite frankly, that we should be viewed as a very desirable landing spot for potential managers," Hahn said. "We're a team that not only gets to play in Chicago and have tremendous support, we're a team that's poised to potentially go on an extended run here."

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