WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Mitts were popping, bats were cracking and cleats were clicking under the feet of players, as the Astros took the field together for the first time Monday morning.
The first full-squad workout of Spring Training gave the club a chance to begin focusing more on the upcoming season and perhaps start to put its sign-stealing scandal in the rearview mirror.
The Astros, minus tardy pitcher Zack Greinke, were met with another media crush at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Monday morning with the fallout from the scandal still front and center around the league. As opposing players continue to voice their resentment, the Astros used Monday as a chance to say they’re ready to focus on baseball.
“Honestly guys, I’m done talking about the offseason and what happened after this year,” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. “For me, it’s time to talk about this upcoming season.”
A candid Correa apologized for the team using electronics to steal signs during the 2017 season when camp began last week, and on Saturday, he blasted players around the league who said Houston’s ’17 World Series championship wasn’t legitimate. The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who was among those who have questioned the championship, also said that ’17 American League MVP Award winner José Altuve “stole” the Award from the Yankees' Aaron Judge, who finished runner-up in that year's vote.
Altuve, when asked Monday about Bellinger’s comments for the first time, chose to focus on Correa having his back. Correa said that Altuve, along with Josh Reddick and Tony Kemp, didn’t participate in the trash-can-banging scheme. Altuve wouldn’t say why he didn’t participate.
“I like to talk about the team, team results,” Altuve said. “I’m here taking full responsibility for the team. I appreciate what Carlos did. Believe me, that tells you what kind of person and what kind of teammate he is. I tell him 100 times what I feel about what he did.”
Reddick said that he couldn’t focus on anything else going on outside the batter’s box when he stepped to the plate.
“This game is hard enough as it is to focus on outside stuff like that,” he said. “I’m not trying to make it about me. … We’ve got to live with it as a team and get through it as a team. I’m not trying to individualize myself among these guys. We all could have stepped up and done something about it.”
All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman admitted that the three months since The Athletic broke a story detailing how the Astros used cameras set up in center field to decode signs has been extremely tough. Major League Baseball issued a Jan. 13 report that corroborated the allegations and ultimately cost general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch their jobs. It also cast the Astros as cheaters during their 2017 championship run.
Since then, players around the league -- including Mike Trout on Monday -- have been critical of the Astros and their accomplishments.
“I really don’t want to say anything about anybody else,” Bregman said. “I just want to worry about my team, and I think everybody has the right to say whatever they want to say. We put ourselves in that position. I think what we can do moving forward is learn and work extremely hard to regain the trust of baseball fans. We know that won’t be easy, but we feel a responsibility to do that.”
Now that they're back to baseball, the Astros will try to heal and move on. That will be hard to do considering the wide-reaching effects of the scandal. If last week’s team-wide apologies were the first step, getting under the Florida sun on Monday as a team for the first time in 2020 was another important one.
“As a team, we’ve done pretty much everything we can do,” Reddick said. “We keep asking for peers’ forgiveness and hopefully they can come around to us one day and understand we are truly remorseful and sorry for what we’ve done. Winning is the biggest thing for us.”