• AJ Hinch hired to manage Astros : HOUSTON (AP) — A.J. Hinch was hired as the manager of the Astros on Monday, and general manager Jeff Luhnow is confident he’ll be the man to return Houston to success.
“I think A.J. is going to be the manager that’s going to be here when we win the World Series,” Luhnow said.
Hinch takes over for Bo Porter, who was fired on Sept. 1 in his second year and replaced on an interim baseis by Tom Lawless. The Astros finished 70-92 and fourth in the AL West.
Houston has been in a long rebuilding process and hasn’t finished above .500 since going 86-75 in 2008.
• Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire after 13 seasons: MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — He was the third base coach who gave Kirby Puckett a high-five to punctuate his winning homer in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.
He was the trusting candidate who took Minnesota’s managing job when many thought the Twins were about to be contracted in 2002.
He was the affable everyman who presided over the team’s turn-of-the-century renaissance and turned the AL doormat into a six-time division champion.
Ron Gardenhire was just about everything in the 27 years he spent in the Twins organization. But even he couldn’t survive the worst four-year stretch in franchise history.
The Twins fired Gardenhire on Monday, saying it was time for a new voice after his 13-year tenure concluded with 383 losses over the last four seasons.
• Girardi: A-Rod has to show he can still play: NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees expect Alex Rodriguez to play third base next season but want the suspended star to prove during spring training he deserves to have his position back after a one-year absence.
Rodriguez hasn’t played an injury-free season since 2007, turns 40 on July 27 and missed all of this year while serving his penalty for violating baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract. He’ll have to show his body is up to the rigors of a major league schedule.
“We’ve got to see where he’s physically at, and if he can play the field, how many days he can play the field and how many days he needs to DH,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at a news conference Monday. “I don’t think really any of us know about him until we actually get him into games in spring training.”
New York missed consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1992 and ‘93. While beloved captain Derek Jeter is retiring, the much-maligned Rodriguez will be returning. The three-time AL MVP is signed for three additional seasons for a total of $61 million, part of his record $275 million, 10-year contract.
• MLB crowds drop slightly for 2nd straight year : NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball attendance dipped slightly for the second straight season.
The 30 teams drew 73,739,622 for an average of 30,458, the commissioner’s office said Monday, a 0.2 percent drop from last year’s average of 30,515. Teams averaged 30,895 in 2012, down from a peak of 32,785 before the Great Recession.
Total attendance of 73.74 million was down from 74.03 million last year and 74.86 million in 2012 but was still MLB’s seventh-highest.
Pittsburgh, in the playoffs for the second straight season following a 21-year absence, set a team home record at 2.44 million, drawing about 6,000 fans more than during PNC Park’s opening season in 2001.