NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Astros general manager James Click, on the job two weeks, acknowledged that regaining public trust in the wake of a sign-stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball would not come quickly. But he said the organization was focused on one day getting there.
“Every Astros employee, every single one of us, is absolutely committed to making sure that that kind of thing never happens here again,” he said at Sunday’s Grapefruit League Media Day. “That's our focus.
“There will be absolutely zero tolerance, no tolerance whatsoever, for that kind of behavior in the Houston Astros organization ever again. And furthermore, that would be the case whether there had been an investigation or not.
“Any organization that I'm a part of would be absolutely 100 percent in compliance with the rules. There’ll be no question about that.”
Click said Astros owner Jim Crane was “appalled” by the scandal that prompted him to dismiss president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, adding: “And he was remorseful and he wanted to move past it and make it right. But look, we know that that's never going to be enough for a lot of people.
“And again, all we can do is go out there and try to try to do it better every single day and just focus on the future. And again, hopefully over time we can earn back that faith.”
Click called the scandal a “failure of leadership,” and Crane has used similar words. He said that some lower-level employees involved in the scandal were still employed by the club.
“We're going to move forward on that,” Click said. “I like to think that people can learn and that people in bad situations were there as a failure of leadership ... and with good leadership and better leadership, [they] can be valuable employees.”
Click said he’d had few conversations with Astros players about the harassment they’re likely to face in road games this season.
“But what I know is that they're a veteran group and they know how to handle themselves,” he said. “It's not like they've never been in a high-pressure situation or a hostile environment before. I have every faith in the team to come together and be veterans and to carry themselves accordingly.
“All we can do is just try to do it better in the future. There are no words that could magically move us beyond this as much as we would love to. Ultimately, we just have to go out and prove it. And hopefully over time we can get back some of the faith that we've lost from baseball fans and from the rest of Major League Baseball.”
He said procedures were being implemented to protect employees who believed they were being pressured to break rules in the future.
“I'm here to provide people the support and the avenues so that if they feel pressured by somebody [to cheat], we're going to make sure that nobody feels pressured at all," Click said. "But if God forbid that happens, we are putting processes in place to make sure that they can reach out to me or other senior baseball operations officials. So that nobody feels pressure to do something against rules ever again.”