Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Bregman passes on chance to defend Astros in sign-stealing scandal

Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman, center, is interviewed by the media during the baseball team’s FanFest, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Houston. The Astros’ Kyle Tucker, right, looks on. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Players from two teams at the center of baseball’s sign-stealing scandal faced their fans on Saturday for the first time since the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox ousted their managers amid the fallout from the investigation into Houston’s elaborate sign-stealing scheme.

When asked about it, Albuquerque native Alex Bregman said the same thing over and over.

Bregman, at the Astros’ annual fan fest in Houston, refused repeated attempts by reporters to get him to address what happened and kept repeating variations of the same phrase.

“The commissioner made his report, made his decision and the Astros made their decision and I have no further comment on it,” Bregman said in some variation again and again. Just about the only specific answer he gave was calling allegations of the Astros wearing buzzers or wires “stupid.”

Houston Astors third baseman Alex Bregman is interviewed by the media during the baseball team’s FanFest at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Houston. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

And after being pressed on if he plans to discuss the sign-stealing in the future, Bregman finally gave an answer that didn’t seemed as rehearsed.

“I think in the 2020 year our actions will speak louder than our words,” he said.

On the other hand, Bregman’s teammate, star second baseman José Altuve, didn’t have a problem answering numerous questions about the scandal. He and Bregman were the only two stars at Saturday’s fanfest who were part of the 2017 championship team. World Series MVP George Springer, ace Justin Verlander, who was the ALCS MVP and shortstop Carlos Correa did not attend the daylong event where fans can interact with players.

“It’s a tough situation and as a team we have to stay together and go through this as a team like we’ve been doing, always,” Altuve said. “We have to talk about it at spring training and try not to let things in the past distract us for next year.”

Altuve was the AL MVP in 2017, and since the sign-stealing scandal broke, some have questioned whether he deserved the award. In recent days he and Bregman have been accused of wearing an electronic device under his jersey to tip pitches, which he vehemently denies. He was asked how it feels for people to call him a cheater.

“You don’t want anybody to call you that,” he said. “But … I have two options. One is cry and one is go down and play the game and (perform) and help my team. And you know what one I am going to do.”

Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. Team owner Jim Crane then fired both Hinch and Luhnow. Manager Alex Cora left the Red Sox on Tuesday after the report identified him as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme when he was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017.

Many Red Sox players talked Saturday at their own fan fest event about how much they liked and valued Cora and hated to see him go.

“I’m heartbroken about it,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said to reporters during an event in Springfield, Massachusetts. “I understood his side of it. He definitely didn’t want to be a distraction. He was one of my favorite, if not my favorite, managers I’ve had.”

The Astros were fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

MLB is also looking into whether Cora installed a similar system in Boston after arriving the following year, when the Red Sox won the World Series. No conclusions have been reached and there is no timetable; the Astros investigation took two months.

Martinez hopes MLB wraps up the investigation into the Red Sox soon.

“I’m excited for the investigation to get over with, so they can see there’s nothing going on here,” he said.

While the Astros were meeting with fans in Houston, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk called for MLB take away their World Series championship, which they won by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, now that it’s been proven that they cheated.

“I’ve got a few friends on the Dodgers that are very disappointed that possibly two years in a row they lost due to a team going against the rules,” Grichuk said.

Many Boston players are trying not to focus on the investigation or what could be coming for the team.

MLB’s investigation of Houston began after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for Oakland last season, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs. Martinez said he has spoken to Fiers and gets why he came forward.

“I understand his side of it, being in that division, going against those guys. It’s an uncomfortable position for him, but I understand why he did what he did,” Martinez said. “He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

In Houston, as the Astros try to put the scandal behind them and focus on the future, Altuve, who has often been described as the heart and soul of the team, is confident it won’t derail the Astros from another successful season.

“Everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re going to be in the World Series again. People don’t believe it. But we will.”

The New York Daily News contributed to this report.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a story about how coronavirus has affected you, your family or your business? Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? What issues related to the topic would you like to see covered? Or do you have a bright spot you want to share in these troubling times?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com or Contact the writer.
AlertMe
TOP |