Bosio claims misunderstanding in firing, Stumpf denies nickname

By Blake Froling

*UPDATED 1:24 p.m.*

According to a new report from The Athletic, four team sources confirmed that Bosio directed the term “monkey” at an African-American clubhouse attendant, which precipitated his firing.

During this exchange, Bosio made a derogatory comment about one of the Tigers pitchers and then gestured toward the attendant before adding, “like this monkey here,” the sources said. The attendant pushed back at Bosio for the comment, and an additional team employee witnessed the exchange. Bosio was provided an opportunity to apologize to the attendant after his outburst but declined to do so, according to multiple sources.

Everyone has been wondering what former Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio allegedly said to a team employee that was bad enough to get him fired on Wednesday. Now we know. Kind of.

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Bosio spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today to give his side of the story and clear up what he called a “misunderstanding.” He said he was referring to Tigers pitcher Daniel Stumpf, not a clubhouse attendant:

“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.’’

After the story came out, Stumpf told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday night that he has never heard that nickname for himself:

“Spider Monkey is not a nickname I have been called or I’m familiar with.”

Bosio told Nightengale that he plans to hire an attorney and will consider filing a wrongful termination suit against the Tigers. With this incident damaging his reputation, he may become untouchable in baseball for quite a while.

If it turns out Bosio’s story is actually true, then general manager Al Avila and the Tigers will look like they acted too quickly and without all the facts. But with Stumpf denying that anyone calls him “spider monkey,” that seems unlikely at this point.

Bullpen coach Rick Anderson will assume Bosio’s former job as pitching coach for the remainder of the season.