DETROIT — Pitching coach Chris Bosio said Thursday he was fired by the Detroit Tigers for using the word "monkey," but insists he didn’t say it in a racial or demeaning context.
Bosio told USA Today he used the word while talking about pitcher Daniel Stumpf, who is white. Bosio said Stumpf is nicknamed "Spider Monkey" because of the faces he makes while lifting weights.
Bosio said an African-American clubhouse attendant overheard the conversation. Bosio told USA Today that "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."’
"I swear on my mom and dad’s graves, there was nothing else to it," he told the newspaper.
General manager Al Avila said Wednesday that Bosio was fired for making insensitive comments to another team employee. Avila declined to offer additional details.
"I have to take seriously what the comments were," Avila said. "And, the action we took was appropriate."
Bosio told USA Today that he was "crushed" about his firing. Bosio said he plans to hire an attorney to help determine whether to sue for wrongful termination.
Bosio was in his first season as Detroit’s pitching coach after serving in the same role for six years with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs didn’t renew Bosio’s contract after last season and hired Jim Hickey to replace him. The 55-year-old Bosio was 94-93 over an 11-season major league career, mostly as a starter, with Milwaukee and Seattle.
The Tigers promoted bullpen coach Rick Anderson to replace Bosio. Roving pitching instructor A.J. Sager will be the team’s bullpen coach until Triple-A Toledo pitching coach Jeff Pico takes his place next week.