Ex-Detroit Tiger Cameron Maybin won title in Houston with AJ Hinch. Here’s what he thinks

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
 
| Detroit Free Press

play
Show Caption

Cameron Maybin is coming back to the town where his 14-year MLB career began.

But it’s not to play for the Detroit Tigers, where the free-agent outfielder already made three stints in 2007, 2016 and 2020.

He is returning to Detroit on Friday with The Players Alliance’s “Pull Up Neighbor” campaign: A nation-wide tour to distribute personal protective equipment, youth baseball gear and food to communities in need.

We caught up with Maybin on Wednesday to discuss his charity work, AJ Hinch and free agency:

READ MORE: Gauging what success, failure looks like for Tigers this offseason

What he likes about Hinch

Throughout his 1,153-game career, Maybin has spent time with a slew of managers. For 21 of those contests in the 2017 season, he joined the Houston Astros and won the World Series.

From 2015-19, the Astros were managed by Hinch, who was hired Oct. 30 as Tigers manager. He was fired by the Astros in January 2020 for his role in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal and faced a year-long MLB ban.

READ MORE: AJ Hinch, the Tigers and the fairy tale ending he’s seeking

“AJ’s one of the smartest baseball people I’ve ever been around,” Maybin said. “He really understands the game. He seems to always be ahead of the game. He’s an extremely bright guy. And he’s a guy that players enjoy playing for. He’s easy to come in and want to go out and play hard for. You want to make AJ look good. He’s that type of guy.

“It’s tough to find that. It’s tough to find the guys that will go to battle for you, and he makes it easy to do that. I think they’re getting an amazing person and an extremely bright baseball mind.”

READ MORE: How 2021 Tigers could look like the 2015 Astros under AJ Hinch

Community work with The Players Alliance

Why is Maybin making Michigan a priority this week?

“The Tigers gave me the first opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream,” Maybin said Wednesday. “I started playing baseball when I was three years old, so I always wanted to be a professional baseball player. That was always my dream, and they helped me fulfill that dream.

“I’m indebted to that organization. I truly have a soft spot in my heart for the Detroit Tigers, and that’s why, during this pandemic, I’m flying out. I’m going to be there. I’ll be in Flint and Detroit doing all that. We’re going to do everything we can to give back. They’ve given me so much. They created an opportunity for me to change my family’s life. The people of Detroit, I love them. And I’m going to do everything I can to help.”

Maybin will make two stops in Michigan on Friday with The Players Alliance, which was founded by MLB players after George Floyd’s killing sparked a national conversation about racial injustice. The tour will be in Flint from 10 a.m. until noon, and then in Detroit from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at The Corner Ballpark, home of Old Tiger Stadium.

Both events are free to the public and do not require registration. COVID-19 protocols will be enforced.

“To just see where we are right now, I mean, look at this tour,” Maybin said. “It’s amazing that we’re able to do this do in the midst of the pandemic. Just to be able to do this tour alone, this early, it’s tremendous to be able to garner this much support. We’re just happy with where we are and where we can go with this.”

[ Why Tigers decided to play baseball on a night that transcended sports ]

Maybin was one of the first players to discuss making a change, and he is considered a leader within The Players Alliance. His first text message went to Dee Strange-Gordon, who has 10 years of MLB experience and played for the Seattle Mariners in 2020.

Just like that, The Players Alliance began to form.

Soon after, former Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson, a 17-year MLB veteran, jumped on board. Curtis Grandson, another former Tiger, got involved. And C.C. Sabathia, who spent 19 years in MLB, wasn’t far behind.

As of Wednesday, there are 143 current and former MLB players involved in The Players Alliance. They’ve donated $41.7 million to Black communities, according to the organization’s website.

“We’re six months in,” Maybin said. “There’s so many conversations, so many ideas coming from so many amazing people. But, again, we’ve got to crawl before we walk. We’ve got a lot of ideas, so many that we’d have to sit here all day to touch on.

“Getting those Little Leagues back up and running, our mentorship program. Not only is that with young, up-and-coming African American players getting drafted, but that goes down to middle school age. Eventually, it’s getting scholarships, getting kids to college and opening more doors and lanes for them to navigate in. That’s the goal.”

Tigers finalize their new minor league structure ]

Traction in free agency

At the 2020 trade deadline, the Tigers dealt Maybin to the Chicago Cubs for infield prospect Zack Short. Maybin hit .247 with one homer and seven RBIs in 32 games between the two teams last season.

It marked the third time the Tigers had traded Maybin — in 2007 to the Florida Marlins in a package for Miguel Cabrera, in 2016 to the Los Angeles Angels for Victor Alcantara and again in 2020.

[ With dark days behind him, Tigers’ Zack Short ready to blossom ]

Maybin, 33, is now a free agent. He has received about five or six phone calls but is still waiting for an offer. He implied Tigers general manager Al Avila has not reached out to him.

“Al knows my number, so I’m always a phone call away,” Maybin said, laughing. “It’s good to have some traction, quite a few teams showing interest. I still feel like I got some really good baseball left. I felt really good about how strong I finished the year with the Cubs, just the quality at-bats I continued to put together.

“I’ve been blessed with a lot of athleticism and a lot of talent, so God will put me where I’m supposed to be.”

Maybin possesses a lifetime .256 batting average, 72 homers, 354 RBIs and 186 stolen bases (caught 55 times).

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

Articles You May Like

What Detroit Tigers Deserve an All-Star Consideration
Here is each team’s All-Star of the future
Tigers draft watch: With no consensus top pick, Detroit keeps options open
SeaWolves Swept in Doubleheader by Akron
2 Tigers trade targets the Cardinals will want after this series

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *