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Astros, MLB to investigate alleged sign-stealing

@brianmctaggart
November 12, 2019

The Astros released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they were beginning an investigation, in cooperation with Major League Baseball, after a story in The Athletic (subscription required) accused the club of stealing signs electronically in 2017, the year they won the World Series. In the story, which was published

The Astros released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they were beginning an investigation, in cooperation with Major League Baseball, after a story in The Athletic (subscription required) accused the club of stealing signs electronically in 2017, the year they won the World Series.

In the story, which was published earlier Tuesday, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who led the team in innings pitched in 2017 but wasn't on the playoff roster, said the Astros stole signs during home games that season with the help of a camera positioned in the outfield. Stealing signs using electronic equipment is against Major League Baseball rules.

The Astros released the following statement: "Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."

In addition to Fiers, The Athletic cited three anonymous sources from inside the organization in 2017 who detailed the alleged sign-stealing, which included someone watching a video feed from the outfield on a monitor inside the dugout tunnel. The employee would pick up the catcher's signs from the monitor and bang a trash can so loudly it could be heard on the field to indicate which pitches were being thrown.

"I'm hopeful that we'll find out exactly what happened and we'll address if there's something to be addressed and we can move on," said Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. "The reason we won the World Series in 2017 is Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and a lot of great players and they do things the right way and we as an organization, that's what we aspire to do as well."

The Athletic, citing two of its sources, said the system the Astros allegedly used extended into the postseason, while the report cited another source saying it ended before the playoffs. The Astros won Game 7 of the World Series on the road, at Dodger Stadium.

"Teams are competing with one another and everybody is trying to find an edge," said Luhnow. "But we all have to follow the rules and the rules are set by Major League Baseball. We all follow them, we agree to follow them and if you don't there's ramifications to that. We want to follow the rules and we want to compete and win and that's what every other club does as well."

MLB issued the following statement to The Athletic:

"Beginning in the 2017 season, numerous Clubs expressed general concerns that other Clubs were stealing their signs. As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season. We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information, we will determine any necessary next steps."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.