How Detroit Tigers' AJ Hinch will approach players about COVID-19 vaccine

Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch is going to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of course, the 46-year-old — without any known health issues — must wait his turn. But when the time comes, regardless of what rules MLB puts in motion, he will welcome the vaccination.

"I'm going to take the vaccine, whenever it's my turn in line to do it," Hinch said Wednesday. "I had COVID, so I know exactly what it can do and what my experience was like. I need to talk to the doctors and see what, if any, complications are with those of us who have had it before, but I want to be safe."

On Sunday morning, semi-trucks with the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine departed from the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, to distribute the vaccine around the state and country. The first person from Michigan was injected at approximately noon Monday.

Many young, healthy people won't be able to get the vaccination until the spring and summer.

[ A.J. Hinch had COVID-19 in September: Here's what he learned ]

Tigers' Miguel Cabrera reacts with Astros manager A.J. Hinch and umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, after Cabrera was hit by a pitch in the third inning during a spring training game at Joker Marchant Stadium, Feb. 25, 2017 in Lakeland, Fla.
Tigers' Miguel Cabrera reacts with Astros manager A.J. Hinch and umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, after Cabrera was hit by a pitch in the third inning during a spring training game at Joker Marchant Stadium, Feb. 25, 2017 in Lakeland, Fla.

At some point, Hinch will talk to his players about the vaccine. The clubhouse conversation, Hinch said, will depend on MLB protocols. He isn't going to try to sway his players in either direction.

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"It's super important for everybody to make their personal decisions for the best interest of themselves and their family," Hinch said. "It's hard if somebody disagrees and doesn't want to do it. I don't know what protocols we're going to have in place.

"I know we want a safe environment. I know we want the fans back in the stands. I know we want something to feel normal again, which is baseball in the summer with the freedom to move around, leave the hotel and go to the ballpark whenever we want, and live a baseball life that we've lived our whole lives."

[ AJ Hinch wants Miguel Cabrera to play first base in 2021 ]

When Hinch was hired by the Tigers on Oct. 30, he revealed he contracted COVID-19 in September. At the time, he was nearing the conclusion of his year-long MLB suspension for his role in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing plot.

Within Michigan, the novel coronavirus has killed nearly 11,500 people and infected about 478,000 in total. Throughout the United States, there have been roughly 305,000 deaths and more than 16.8 million infections.

Hinch, who lives in Texas, was one of those infected cases.

A handful of Tigers prospects had COVID-19 last summer, as did numerous players throughout the 2020 baseball season.

"It's hard to say what's going to be necessary for baseball on what we need to do to have a normal season," Hinch said. "Obviously, that cuts into safety. I don't think, just because you get the vaccine, you get free rein. I'm expecting masks to be a part of our country for a while. I will make sure that I'm safe."

To have what he described as "freedom" during the upcoming season, Hinch said it's important to learn about the vaccine before deciding whether to get injected. Also, he vows to keep his clubhouse safe by following the COVID-19 protocols to the best of his ability.

"I'll address it directly with our players," Hinch said. "I'll let them know what my plans are, and I'll let them disagree if they disagree, and we'll move forward with whatever rules are put in place by Major League Baseball. Tricky situation, but also not when you put family first.

"I want to be safe. I want the freedom to move around the country and move around baseball, and I'm going to move forward with that with my family."

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: How Detroit Tigers' AJ Hinch will approach players about COVID vaccine