The Detroit Tigers said Wednesday that they fired pitching coach Chris Bosio out of “zero tolerance” for the kind of “insensitive comments” he made toward another team employee. According to Bosio, it was all a big misunderstanding, as he claimed Thursday that he used a term that was interpreted as racist by a black clubhouse attendant but was actually meant in reference to a white player.
“I’m absolutely crushed,” Bosio told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I still can’t believe it’s gotten to this point. I’m in shock.’’
The problem is that, per Ken Rosenthal and Katie Strang of The Athletic, it was the attendant at whom the slur was directed and the incident was witnessed by another team employee. Rosenthal and Strang also report that, per multiple sources, “Bosio was provided an opportunity to apologize to the attendant after his outburst but declined to do so.”
The 55-year-old ex-coach, who was in his first season in Detroit after earning praise for his work with the Cubs’ staff from 2012 to 2017, said that the attendant heard him say “monkey” and took offense. However, Bosio asserted that he was referring to Daniel Stumpf, a Tigers player he said was nicknamed “Spider Monkey.”
“Someone in our coaches’ room asked me [on Monday] about Stumpf,’’ Bosio told Nightengale. “And I said, ‘Oh, you mean, Spider Monkey.’ That’s his nickname. He’s a skinny little white kid who makes all of these funny faces when he works out.
“The kid [clubhouse attendant] thought we were talking about him. He got all upset. He assumed we were talking about him. I said, ‘No, no, no. We’re talking about Stumpf.’
“And that was it. I swear on my mom and dad’s graves, there was nothing else to it.’’
There was more to it for the Tigers, who said they included legal counsel in interviewing people involved in the incident before the team’s general manager, Al Avila, decided to terminate Bosio’s contract. “We know what we did, and why we did it, and we’ll see where it goes from there,’’ Avila told Nightengale.
“The action we took was appropriate,” he added. “There were things involved.”
When Stumpf was asked Thursday about the nickname, he said he was unaware of it. “Spider Monkey is not a nickname I have been called or I’m familiar with,” the 27-year-old pitcher, currently with the Tigers’ Class AAA affiliate while recovering from an injury, told the Detroit Free Press.
When MLB allowed players to use nicknames on the backs of their jerseys during a designated Players Weekend last August, Stumpf went with “Donald.” According to MLB.com, that nickname was bestowed on him by minor league teammates who thought his last name sounded like “Trump.”
The Free Press reported Thursday that “multiple players and coaches” who have been around Stumpf during his two seasons in Detroit said they never heard him referred to directly as “Spider Monkey.” Tony Paul of the Detroit News said on Twitter, “If Bosio’s story *is* true, he’d have three or four assistant coaches backing him up and he would still have his job. But, nope.”
In announcing the firing of Bosio, the Tigers declined to specify what exactly he said. The team offered no further official comment Thursday after Bosio divulged that it was “monkey,” but he said that he had pleaded his case with Avila and other team officials, insisting to them that he “didn’t cross the line.”
“I’ve got protect myself some way, because this is damaging as hell to me,” said the former pitcher, who threw a no-hitter for the Mariners in 1993 and told Nightengale that he wants to continue his coaching career. Saying, “Everyone knows this is not me,” Bosio emphasized that he didn’t use “any profanity” or “vulgarity,” and didn’t say the “n-word” or “racial anything.”
“This kid and I had a great relationship,” Bosio said of the attendant. “This kid played jokes on me all spring, and I told him, ‘Now you’re offended, because you heard the word “monkey,” or “Spider Monkey,’’ and it’s not even directed at you.’
“We crack fat jokes on our trainer every day. All kinds of things are said in a baseball clubhouse. And for this to happen to me? I don’t know what else to say, but I know I don’t deserve this.’’
Read more from The Post: