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Hinch exits D-backs' organization with class

Hinch exits D-backs' organization with class

PHOENIX -- A.J. Hinch went out as a winner, and he went out with class.

The former D-backs manager would've liked to have had a better record than 89-123 over his tenure, but he left on a winning note thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Cardinals in a well-played game on Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm glad we won my last game," Hinch said. "And happy with how we played that game. Being able to end my managerial career in Arizona, beating Tony La Russa and the St. Louis Cardinals, will certainly be a memory that lasts for me, because it was [pitcher] Barry Enright's debut. Someone that I saw come through the Minor Leagues, had a lot of interaction with and was able to hand the ball to him for his first Major League start."

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Less than 24 hours after that victory, Hinch was summoned to Chase Field, where he was told of his dismissal by interim general manager Jerry Dipoto, who replaced the dismissed Josh Byrnes, and team president and CEO Derrick Hall.

"You don't get called in on an off-day very often for good news," Hinch said. "I pretty much knew going in that it was nearing the end."

Hinch was praised by Hall for how he accepted the news.

"He was very professional," Hall said. "A.J. was fantastic. He was actually trying to be part of the solution and asked how he could help."

Hinch was named to his position May 8, 2009, replacing Bob Melvin, who was dismissed with a 12-17 record. The move generated controversy due to Hinch's lack of managing or coaching experience.

Yet despite being thrust into an almost no-win situation, Hinch approached each day as though things were going to start turning around for the better.

"I never sat in the chair and felt like we were overmatched, or that we were going into a game where we didn't have a chance to win," Hinch said. "I have a ton of respect for the players that played for me and the coaches that worked under me, and I gave it everything I had."

Hinch joined the D-backs as farm director after Byrnes took over as GM following the 2005 season. He was seen as being on the front office fast track, and no doubt would have been a candidate for GM openings had he not been named manager.

"When I chose to accept the job and made the commitment to change courses in my career, I really thought that things were going to be better and I could be part of the solution," Hinch said. "I didn't expect the opportunity to present itself to me like this. I learned a lot on the fly. I felt prepared in a lot of aspects of the game. I'm very thankful to the group that hired me and gave me the opportunity. I wish it would have worked out better.

"When I took the job and took the challenge, I honestly felt like it was going to work."

As to what his next step would be, Hinch said he was not sure whether he would seek another on-field job or head back to the front office. One thing is certain, though -- it will be in baseball.

"I love baseball, I love the competitive side which exists both in the front office and on the field," Hinch said. "I'm willing to take a step back and digest all that has happened over the last couple of years and even the last five years that I've been a non-player. I have a ton of respect for the players that played for me and the coaches that worked under me, and I gave it everything I had."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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