WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa called a small group of local reporters together on Saturday afternoon to address criticism that his team has faced in recent days about the sign-stealing scandal, and more specifically, answer questions surrounding the legitimacy of the 2017 World Series championship and José Altuve’s '17 American League Most Valuable Player Award raised by others around the league.
• Astros respond to league-wide comments
Here’s the transcript:
What do you think about what Cody Bellinger said about José Altuve and the Astros stealing the World Series and him stealing the MVP from Aaron Judge?
Like I said, I have no problem when people talk about what happened during the regular season in 2017. You know, whatever people have to say, we’ve got to take that on the chin. Guys, it was wrong. It was wrong and we’ve got to own that and we’ve got to take that.
But when you stand in front of the camera and you don’t know the facts, you don’t know what happened and you’re not informed and you try to rip one of my teammates like that, when you don’t know … Mike Fiers knows that Altuve didn’t use the trash can. You guys are going to find out, because I’m sure somebody is going to ask him and he’s going to tell everybody, he’s going to tell the world Altuve didn’t use it. Because if he’s man enough to tell the truth and tell his story and break the story, then he should be man enough to say that the MVP of 2017 didn’t use it. He should be man enough to say that. We all, in that clubhouse, know that Altuve’s integrity is going to be intact because of what was said today. Because he earned that MVP and nobody can take that away from him.
So when [Cody Bellinger] stands up there and says he cheated Judge out of an MVP? A guy that hit .400 on the road? Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sit well with me. If you state facts and you tell the truth out there and you talk about ’17 and whatever the Astros did? Yeah, that’s OK. I’m not going to comment on that. I’m not going to tell anything about that ‘cause we’ve got to take that. We made that mistake. We’re wrong for everything we did. And everything that comes with it, we’ve got to take. We’ve got to be man enough to own it and take responsibility for all those actions that we took, but when you stand out there and say lies helped my teammates, that’s when I’ve got to say something.
What are your feelings on Mike Fiers?
Mike Fiers, man. He was our teammate and he decided to break out the story. That’s just him. I really don’t have much to say, but what I have to say is he should tell the truth. He should tell the whole world the truth. José Altuve won the MVP.
A lot of players have apologized for not stopping the scheme or being involved with it. Fiers hasn’t said anything. Do you think he should apologize for being a part of the ’17 team and not stopping what happened?
Absolutely. Did you see the smile he had when he got that ring at Minute Maid [Park]? Do you see when he was celebrating when we won the championship? He was part of the team. He didn’t say anything about it back then. He definitely should apologize as well. We all feel bad in this organization, man, we have to go through to this process because of our wrongdoing back in 2017. When you look back at it, bro, it’s just terrible, man. It’s not right for the game of baseball, the game we grew up loving so much, the game we show passion [for] every single day. It’s not right to know what’s coming and do what we did. We were wrong. Like I said before, we’ve got to own that. Whatever comes this year on the road, from the fans, we’ve got to take that. I’ve got no problem with that because if they’re going to talk the facts, those are the facts. The Commissioner’s Office had the report, they had the report, they said what they had to say about the investigation, but don’t go out there and tell us we cheated for three years when clearly the Commissioner’s report doesn’t say that.
You suggested other players didn’t use the trash-can system. What players did not do this?
José Altuve, Josh Reddick, Tony Kemp didn’t use it at all. They didn’t want to. [They'd] get mad if somebody would bang the trash can when they were hitting. Yeah, it was those three guys. They’re not going to say it. Altuve is too humble to go out there and say it. Reddick, he’s a veteran of this game, he’s well respected around the league and he’s not going to go out there and throw his team under the bus. I’m going to say it ’cause I was there. I saw it. I saw it with my own eyes. They didn’t want it. This Altuve talk about him stealing the MVP, that should be dead after what I said and you guys ask Mike Fiers if that’s true.
What would José Altuve do to signal he didn’t want to use the trash can?
I remember one time somebody banged the trash can without his consent while he was hitting. I don’t remember if he got a hit, he got out. I just know he was heated. And you guys don’t see Altuve mad very often, but you don’t want to see him mad. When he gets mad, he’s heated. He’s going to tell you whatever he feels and whatever he wants to say, and I remember him being heated every time somebody would accidentally, or without his consent, bang on the trash can.
(Correa asked to address the rumors of buzzers)
That story should be killed already, guys. Like seriously, a fake account on Twitter said that and then we all make it a story? Like what are we doing here? You guys are great reporters. You guys should do a better job of killing this story already. MLB did their investigation. I’m telling you, hey, there was no buzzers and I told already why he didn’t want his shirt ripped off [after Altuve’s walk-off homer to win the 2019 AL Championship Series]. Like, this story should not keep dragging out there. Bro, Altuve didn’t use a trash can in 2017. You think he would use a buzzer with all the technology that’s now around the ballparks and all the cameras around the ballparks and ruin his legacy like that? No, that story should definitely … people should stop talking about that already.
Carlos, for clarification, you did use the trash can?
Yes, I used the trash can and I’m here like a man and I tell you I used because my credibility right here, this is what I live for. Every time I speak, I want you guys to believe me. When I tell you, yes I did. A lot of players used it and that’s why we’re going through this right now because of what happened in 2017. But Altuve, leave him out of this conversation.
You cited Altuve’s road batting average in 2017. Did you guys try to steal signs (illegally) on the road?
No, not at all. It’s impossible, man. You look at our division, you go to Oakland, man, and you have all the players right there and you have to go all the way up [an exposed walkway to reach the tunnel to the dugout]. No, I’m not even going into detail. It’s just a straight 'no.' It’s impossible to be on the road and steal signs. The team owns the cameras and everything on the road, so yeah, no. I’m not going to into detail like that.
Are there any big playoff hits or playoff hits at all that were aided by the trash can?
So, when I talked to Ken [Rosenthal earlier in the day] and we went through games at Minute Maid, because the games we won on the road [were] fair and square. No one can say nothing about that. That’s two games right there [in the 2017 World Series]. In Game 3, we scored five runs -- three came with guys on second base and guys use multiple signs [making it impossible to decode]. And as many people have expressed out there, a lot of mound visits and changing the signs and that’s why MLB implanted the rule of mound visits, because the 2017 World Series took so long. Those [signs] change all the time. It was a double by Marwin [Gonzalez], first and second, and both scored. There was a hit by [Brian] McCann, man on second with multiple signs. He scored. There was a chopper to the pitcher by Evan Gattis with Reddick on first, threw the ball away and the homer by Yuli [Gurriel], solo homer by Yuli. Four runs -- three of them with guys on second base and one of them by just bad defense. So don’t tell me we cheated you out of a World Series.
In Game 5, homer, I hit a double with a man on second base, multiple signs. Yuli hit a homer with guys on second and third. Again, multiple signs. Altuve hit a homer off [Kenta] Maeda, guys on first and second. Multiple signs. And [Alex] Bregman hit a walk-off single with a pinch-runner, Derek Fisher, that didn’t know what was going on in the game because he hasn’t been involved in the game. He’s just warming up to get ready to run. Multiple signs, walk-off.
Game 7, [Bellinger’s] telling me we cheated them out of a championship. Game 7, he throws a ball away in the first inning and we scored two runs. We win the game on the road. Game 7 on the road, because they left 20 guys on base. You’re telling me, you’re telling our team, you’re telling the fans we cheated you out of a World Series championship? Like I said on the interview with [MLB Network insider] Ken [Rosenthal], he should not be talking about that. He should have done something about that.
What about the two series to get to the 2017 World Series?
The Yankees [in the ALCS], yeah, they scored one run first game, they scored one run the second game, they scored one run in Game 6 and they scored no runs in Game 7. If you expect to win with three runs in four games, you’re out of your mind. With the group of talent we have, with the numbers that we put up throughout the years, take 2017 out. Look at the numbers we put across the board, all those years we’ve been playing. One run per game is not going to do it.
Last year, obviously, there was nothing in the report and you guys were eight outs from winning a World Series. How much do you stand by last year and what you accomplished?
Yeah, that’s a great question, Brian. I appreciate that. Last year there was nothing and we got to a World Series. We were close to winning a championship. It still hurts to this day. I heard Kurt Suzuki’s comments also saying they were cheating. So you guys now, all the players now, are above the lawyers that MLB is using, above the Commissioner’s report. Like seriously, bro, the Commissioner’s report clearly says in 2019 nothing happened. Just straight up baseball players with talent playing the game of baseball. You have the audacity to tell the reporters they were cheating because you heard the whistles? Fans whistle in the game. The fans are whistling all the time in the game. What does a whistle mean? Don’t go out there and tell reporters we were cheating and don’t go above MLB, the investigation, the lawyers, the report, when obviously there was nothing going on.
Oh, and they won the championship and he’s still talking about that? Enjoy your ring, enjoy your teammates, enjoy what you guys accomplished and congratulations to you guys. You guys played better than us. That was it.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.