During the session with local Tampa Bay media, Morton made it clear that he would not discuss the issue past Saturday’s Fan Fest at Tropicana Field, but Morton, who pitched for the Astros for two seasons and recorded the last out of the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers, wanted to take the time to show his regret for what the Astros did during that season.
Morton admitted to hearing banging of trash cans during the 2017 season at Minute Maid Park, which helped the hitters know which type of pitch the pitcher was getting set to throw. Morton wishes he did more to stop it.
“Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it,” Morton said Saturday. “I don’t know what that would have entailed. I think the actions would have been somewhat [uncommon for me] to stop it.”
Because of the struggles earlier in his career, Morton also said that he feels for pitchers who struggled due in part to the advantage the Astros hitters had due to sign-stealing.
“I know what it’s like to struggle in the big leagues and I know what it’s like to battle for a spot,” Morton said. “So to know that was going on and guys were having to deal with that, pitching in the big leagues is tough enough, so that part was difficult.”
When asked if his feelings about his former teammates has changed, Morton said that he still has a lot of fond memories of the 2017 season and has a different perception due to the time he spent with those players in Houston.
“On a professional side, on a baseball side of it, I watched those guys go on the road in 2017 and dominate,” Morton said. “I’m not thinking that I’m going to come into Minute Maid Park and because this has come out that happened three years ago, that it’s going to be a cakewalk. I think the opposite is true.
“From a personal standpoint, good people make mistakes. It’s as simple as that. I really don’t have anything else to say about it. I think mistakes were made and everybody is just trying to move on. I think it is one of those things where I know those guys, I went through a lot with those guys, so I feel like I have a little different perspective on who they are as opposed to someone that is just reading that the Astros cheated in 2017.”
Morton, who is now entering his second season with the Rays, said he doesn’t think he needs to address his current teammates about the 2017 season, but as one of the leaders on the team, he will remain open to talking with any Rays players who might need to clear the air. He’s already had brief discussions with Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, who were both open about saying that some of the Astros hitters should have been punished by the league due to their involvement.
“We talked about it a little bit,” Glasnow said. “But then we got off topic and started talking about other things. What was he supposed to do? He was just a pitcher on that [Astros] team, there was no weirdness [between us] or anything.”
Morton also added that he doesn’t believe the Astros were gaining any unfair advantages during the Rays’ American League Division Series loss to the Astros in 2019. The MLB investigation revealed no violations of the policy by the Astros in the ‘19 season or ‘19 postseason.
“When we went into Houston in 2019, based on the information that I had, I didn’t think that was going to be an issue,” Morton said. “So no, in no way, shape or form was I thinking that someone was underneath the dugout with a live feed.
“I think there are ways to convey necessary information and I tried to do that. I didn’t think that going into Houston last year that it would’ve been a concern any more than any other place.”
Though the image of him recording the final out of the 2017 World Series will always be special for Morton, he does understand that the opinion of that championship run has definitely changed. His focus now, however, is to move on and help the Rays make it back to the postseason.
“Certainly the public perception of that win has changed, and my peers, too,” Morton said. “People have weighed in on this. That’s the reality of it. There are moments during the World Series that will always be special to me, that won’t be 'tainted.' But certainly that’s justified, that’s a justified perception to have, and what people have expressed.”