Tigers unaware of sign stealing at Fenway

Ausmus, players can't recall specific incident after clubs played in June

September 6th, 2017
Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the club has a practice of changing signs all the time, sometimes multiple times within the inning. (AP)David Zalubowski/AP

DETROIT -- Tigers players and manager Brad Ausmus say they didn't have any specific issues with the Red Sox regarding potential stolen signs when they played three games at Fenway Park in June. But like in a lot of other ballparks they visit, they were careful to change up their signs.

The Tigers didn't necessarily dispute a report from ESPN's Buster Olney that they had taken issue with what they believed to be the Red Sox stealing signs, but nobody from Ausmus to catcher to pitcher -- who started the Sunday night finale to that series -- could remember any specific incident.

"There was nothing that I knew of," Ausmus said, "other than there are a number of teams -- and quite frankly, you almost make the assumption that everyone is stealing signs nowadays so you prepare for it -- but there are certain teams we feel more strongly about than others, or more aware of. I'm not going to say who they are. But I don't remember anything specific with the Red Sox."

If there was anything, Ausmus said, it wasn't related to electronics. While sign stealing isn't against any baseball rules, the use of electronics is.

"It sounds grandiose because a [smart watch] was involved," Ausmus said of the Yankees-Red Sox issue. "But the only difference is it was being texted to a watch as opposed to being run down from the video room."

The Tigers have had public issues with sign stealing this season, notably when former Tigers pitcher was changing signs with nobody on base in Cleveland after getting roughed up in his previous outing there. There was no complaint filed, nothing beyond hints from Verlander and McCann that the Tigers were suspicious.

"There's been multiple games against multiple teams where we thought the baserunner at second was stealing signs," Ausmus said. "I don't remember anything with technology when it comes to that."

In June, Verlander noted one reason why games were taking longer this season was the extra time taken for pitcher and catcher to continually change signs. But as Ausmus and McCann noted, it's the simplest way to combat -- or at least delay -- sign stealing.

"We have a pretty standard practice of changing signs all the time, every inning, sometimes multiple times within the inning," Ausmus said. "So it makes it much more difficult for [opponents]. Even if they're looking on video, once we reset to different signs, it's going to take them two, three, four, five pitches to figure out what our signs are. By that time, we might have another out."