One day after the Detroit Tigers abruptly fired pitching coach Chris Bosio over what the team called “insensitive comments,” Bosio said that he is “absolutely crushed” and will consider seeking legal action against his former employer.
In an interview with USA Today Thursday, the 55-year-old Bosio vehemently defended himself, characterizing the incident that led to his firing as a misunderstanding.
“I’m crushed,” Bosio said. “I’m absolutely crushed. I still can’t believe it’s gotten to this point. I’m in shock.”
He added that he will hire an attorney for guidance on whether or not to file a wrongful termination suit against the team.
Though the Tigers did not release details Wednesday about what caused Bosio’s termination, reports circulated that the comments in question were directed at a team employee.
Bosio explained his side to USA Today, saying he was relieved of his duties after using the word “monkey” in a conversation he insists was not directed at an African American. Bosio said a clubhouse attendant overheard the comment and apparently took offense, when Bosio was actually talking about relief pitcher Daniel Stumpf, who is white.
“Someone in our coaches’ room asked me (Monday afternoon) about Stumpf,” Bosio said. “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 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.”
Bosio says he confessed to saying the word in a meeting with Tigers general manager Al Avila, assistant GM and general counsel John Westhoff, and manager Ron Gardenhire.
“I didn’t deny it, but it was directed at Stumpf, and the face he makes when he lifts weights,” Bosio told USA Today. “That’s it.’”
Asked to respond to Bosio’s version of events, Avila told USA Today, “We know what we did and why we did it, and we’ll see where it goes from there. The action we took was appropriate. There were things involved. But I can’t comment any further.’”
Bosio remained adamant that his comment was severely misconstrued.
“I’ve got protect myself someway, because this is damaging as hell to me,” Bosio said. “I’ve got to fight for myself. Everyone knows this is not me. I didn’t use any profanity. There was no vulgarity. The N-word wasn’t used. No racial anything. It was a comment, and a nickname we used for a player.
“This kid and I had a great relationship. 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 everyday. 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.”
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire added Bosio to his staff prior this season, Gardenhire’s first in charge in Detroit. The Tigers currently rank 22nd in the majors in team ERA.
Bosio, 55, spent 11 seasons in the majors as a pitcher, going 94-93 with a 3.69 ERA with Milwaukee and Seattle. His last season was 1996. His most successful run as a coach was with the Chicago Cubs, where he served as pitching coach from 2012-17, serving on the World Series winning 2016 squad.
—Field Level Media