- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is expected to meet with the full Astros roster Wednesday to discuss the team’s strategy for publicly addressing the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked the franchise all offseason, sources familiar with the plans told ESPN.
While only pitchers and catchers were expected to report to Astros camp Wednesday, position players have flown here as well to participate in the meeting, sources said. The team plans to open the clubhouse Thursday for its first media availability of the spring.
The level of contrition and tack the Astros will take in addressing the scandal is unclear. At the Houston Sports Awards on Jan. 22, Crane said the team would “apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward” during spring training.
Crane fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch on Jan. 13 after commissioner Rob Manfred’s report implicated the team in stealing the signs via an illicit center-field camera and banging a trash can to signal hitters the type of pitch coming in 2017. The Astros won the World Series that season and have endured deep criticism from fellow players for their actions.
At the team’s FanFest in January, second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman did not offer apologies when asked about the scheme. Former Astros Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Marwin Gonzalez have apologized for the team’s actions. When asked about their World Series win, Joe Musgrove, a pitcher on the 2017 Astros, told reporters Tuesday: “I don’t want to say it’s tainted, but I think it is.”
The sign-stealing scandal has engulfed the sport since the original story by The Athletic in November accused the Astros of misdeeds Manfred’s report later confirmed. MLB continues to investigate the Boston Red Sox, who were accused in a separate Athletic report of using technology to steal signs during their championship-winning 2018 season.
Boston fired manager Alex Cora after Manfred’s report implicated him in implementing the trash-can-banging scheme, and the New York Mets fired their manager, Carlos Beltran, who was an Astros player at the time and was accused of helping devise the system.
While no others have lost their jobs, a Wall Street Journal report last week accused multiple front-office officials of developing a separate system, nicknamed “Codebreaker,” that used an algorithm to decode opposing teams’ sign sequences.
No players were disciplined by MLB, as they were offered immunity for truthfully cooperating with the league’s investigation.
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