DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dave Hudgens regrets not doing more.
In 2017, Hudgens, now Toronto’s bench coach, was the hitting coach for the Houston Astros, who, as detailed in a report by the Commissioner’s Office, stole signs using a video feed and relayed that information by way of banging a trash can throughout the ’17 season. The report indicated that the method was primarily player-driven, but Hudgens believes he could have done more to stop what was happening.
Though the Blue Jays’ bench coach couldn’t recall when he first realized what the Astros were doing, he does remember hearing the banging and asking a player what was going on. The player shared with Hudgens that the noise was an indication that a breaking ball was coming.
“I didn’t think about it, to be honest with you,” Hudgens said. “I should have. It should have been something we thought about. But no, at the time it was like it kind of went over our heads.”
Hudgens was among those interviewed this offseason as part of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Astros’ actions. He believes that the repercussions faced by the organization are fair, as well as a deterrent from anything similar happening in the future.
“With the general manager [Jeff Luhnow] and AJ [Hinch, the Astros' manager] suspended a year and out of baseball, it’s been tough on everybody’s reputation,” Hudgens said. “Major League Baseball, the Commissioner, they’ve done a fair job of taking care of this, and hopefully it will never happen again.”
Hudgens has seen firsthand how much technology has advanced in the game in the two decades since he first became a hitting coach in the Majors. While the increase in information can be advantageous, he believes it needs to be “used the right way.”
Hudgens noted that he would like to see the live feeds removed from some areas where they are available, and have replay feeds and staff relocated. He also thinks the idea of pitchers and catchers using earpieces could be a potential fix.
“If it’s live feed, it’s a different story,” Hudgens said. “There’s a certain element that crosses a line that shouldn’t have been done. A lot of teams are looking at our guys to see if they’re tipping, or if our signs aren’t right, if we’re one finger [is a] fastball, two’s a curve, they’re going to give it. It goes on. But there are certain things that shouldn’t go on.”
Buschmann embraces new role
When the Blue Jays announced their 2020 Minor League and player development staffs, one notable promotion was the addition of the director of pitching development title to Matt Buschmann’s role as the bullpen coach.
The 35-year-old is hoping that in his new hybrid role he can help provide a connection between the Major League and Minor League sides of the game.
“We’re really just trying to become one piece when it comes to development,” Buschmann said. “We’re trying to figure out [and share] what we’re seeing at the Major League level [as far as] this is the big picture, and how we are going to get guys there. It’s about having a voice over there [on the Minor League side] and having it all be connected so there’s one message throughout the organization.”
While Buschmann maintains his presence with the Blue Jays in Toronto, he will also help oversee a team that will work together to plan and implement changes and additions to the organization’s pitching programming.
“We have representatives from development and myself on this pitching leadership team or pitching development team,” he said. “It allows us to think big picture. My job isn’t necessarily to think about the day-to-day. It’s to push some big-picture things and implement ideas as we get the new facility online on the Minor League side.”
McGuire to appear in court
The Blue Jays released a statement on Wednesday about the recent arrest of catcher Reese McGuire, as first reported by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. According to the Sportsnet report, the 24-year-old was arrested for exposure of sexual organs on Friday and is scheduled to appear in court next month
“The Toronto Blue Jays are aware of the recent police incident involving catcher Reese McGuire,” the statement reads. “He has been in communication with the Blue Jays and we are working to gather more information. Out of respect for the legal process, neither he nor the club will comment any further at this time.”