Detroit — The Tigers on Wednesday terminated the contract of pitching coach Chris Bosio.
General manager Al Avila said the action was taken because of insensitive comments Bosio made to a club employee. The comments, Avila said, violated company policy and the terms of Bosio’s contract.
Avila would not say whether the comments were racial or sexual in nature, and he would not say who the comments were directed toward.
“These decisions are always difficult,” Avila said. “But when it comes upon you, you have to take responsibility and take action. Nobody likes to fire anybody, but sometimes you have no choice.”
Tigers’ assistant general manager and general counsel John Westhoff headed up the investigation. Bosio, manager Ron Gardenhire and Avila met in Gardenhire’s office after the game Tuesday. Bosio was notified that he’d been fired before the game Wednesday.
“The organization holds all of our personnel to the highest standards of personal conduct both on and off the field,” Avila said. “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
Rick Anderson, who was Gardenhire’s pitching coach for more than a decade in Minnesota and was his bullpen coach this season, will take over the duties of pitching coach. Ultimately, Toledo pitching coach Jeff Pico will serve as the bullpen coach for the rest of the season.
Pico is expected to join the Tigers in Chicago next week. In the meantime, roving pitching coordinator A.J. Sager will fill-in as the bullpen coach.
“This is a tough day, but we have to move forward,” Gardenhire said. “This is about the organization and its policies. This organization is all about respect and that’s what happened.”
The players were notified en masse at about 3 p.m. that Bosio was fired.
“It’s unfortunate,” reliever Alex Wilson said. “From the Tigers side of things, we’re sorry to everybody it affected. It’s not a good day here. It’s a sad day. But we’re going to move forward, and hopefully this brings us closer than we’ve even been.”
Both Gardenhire and Avila were careful to steer questions away from the incident — and from what Avila said, it was an isolated incident.
Some of the players seemed to know of the incident; others didn’t know anything about it until they met Wednesday afternoon with Avila.
“I don’t know if you learn anything from this other than how severe the consequences can be,” Wilson said. “We all know what’s right and what’s wrong. We all understand the nature of this business and the world that we live in.
“Some things are unacceptable. From what we were told, it crossed those lines. I don’t know exactly the context of what he said, but it crossed a barrier of what is forgivable.”
Gardenhire was clearly distraught, but his immediate concern was pulling the team back on point.
“This is a really sad day, really hard day,” he said. “The club is going through a hard time right now and this has added on to it. We’ve got to fight our way through it. We have to believe in each other and we have to fight for each other just like we’ve been doing.
“We have to pull together here. This is not easy. There’s a lot of respect in this clubhouse for Boz. But we just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Grind it out and pull together as a group. There’s going to be a lot of things other than baseball being talked about. We have to focus on baseball.”
Bosio made a quick and significant impact on a pitching staff that ranked at or near the bottom of nearly every statistical category last season. Many of his methods are unique to him and, as Wilson said, Bosio and Anderson are “of two completely different minds.”
Wilson believes that going forward, there will be a hybrid approach between staying with the plan Bosio initiated and incorporating more of Anderson’s methods and beliefs as the season goes along.
“The tempo and aggressiveness that Bosio put in place is huge,” Wilson said. “We have to keep that. We saw dramatic impact on what that can do for us. Moving forward, Rick is a more approachable person for a lot of guys. For me, I had a great relationship with Boz.
“It is what it is. Rick knows us really well. You might see some slight tweaks in how we’re used.”
Anderson has been involved in all the game-planning and scouting reports all season long, so the mechanics of game preparation won’t change much. And the pitchers’ daily routines, all established by Bosio, also will remain in place.
“We’ve all been together since spring training, so we know the plan,” Gardenhire said. “It’s not a lot different than what we’ve been doing. Andy has been doing it a long time…The pitchers have a good relationship with him. They trust him.”
Wilson could sense something was up when he walked into the clubhouse Wednesday.
“A lot of us heard rumors of what had taken place,” he said. “When I showed up you could just tell, something was different. There was a different feeling in the room. It was an awkward day, a weird day. The only thing I can compare it to is when (former president Dave) Dombrowski was fired in the middle of the season.
“But this is totally different circumstances and way more unfortunate.”