Rojas: Yankees' Schmidt 'was clearly tipping' pitches

Mariners infielder confirms he was relaying signs, which pitcher calls 'a credit to them'

May 22nd, 2024

NEW YORK -- One day after Yankees starter said publicly that he felt he was tipping his pitches during a 6-3 loss to the Mariners, Seattle infielder confirmed that was indeed the case from his perspective.

“I mean, you can see in the videos he was clearly tipping,” Rojas said before Wednesday night’s game at Yankee Stadium, after confirming that he saw Schmidt’s comments on X (formerly Twitter).

Rojas was on second base when Dylan Moore ripped a two-run homer off a 93.1 mph cutter on the outer black, in a full count and on the seventh pitch of the at-bat during the third inning. It was that specific sequence that Schmidt said he felt Rojas was relaying signs to Moore.

“It's not an uncommon thing. I mean, I don't think I did anything wrong,” Rojas said. “I don't think anybody's in the wrong here. I think it's just part of the game. You've got to go out there, and you've got to try to hide your stuff. It's not like it's something that's off limits. Our pitchers are constantly working to try to eliminate any tips.”

Schmidt also made it clear that, in his estimation, deciphering tips from second base is “100 percent” fair game.

“If I'm giving away the pitches, then it's a credit to them for being able to find it and especially a credit to Moore for being able to capitalize on a mistake,” Schmidt said.

An MLB Network breakdown further illustrated what all parties were describing, as there were multiple videos showing Schmidt using different grips -- all while Rojas was directly behind him.

“I'm not going to get into the specifics of Clarke, other than to say everyone's a little bit different,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Some guys don't [tip] at all, some guys do a lot and some guys go in and out of certain things. So it's just something that we're constantly with all our guys paying attention to.”

Schmidt’s lone runs surrendered were via that two-run homer, which immediately followed a double from Rojas that snapped his 0-for-15 skid. Schmidt said that the Yankees provided him video of his tipped pitches after the inning, which he said he corrected.

“It wasn't a thing where we were tipping every pitch,” Rojas said. “I can tell you that. D-Mo had a great at-bat and he hit a great pitch. And I guess I could say honestly, we weren't tipping every pitch, but [Schmidt] was giving some stuff away.”

While accusations of sign stealing would seem to carry a negative connotation, taking tells from pitch-tipping (in a non-electronic version of such a practice) is a tradition as old as the sport itself. It has become more difficult to decipher those cues now, though, given the advent of PitchCom, the wearable devices that transmit signals from catcher to pitcher that were approved for use in 2022. Schmidt was using PitchCom on Tuesday.

“Before, it was a game of trying to find sequences in the catcher's signs, along with tips from pitchers,” Rojas said. “But now, obviously, it's less common because you can't get the sequences from second base. So now, it's just strictly a game of trying to find little things like that will give you a tell.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais didn’t outright confirm what Rojas did. But he pointed out that there’s still a factor of execution, and Moore has been arguably the Mariners’ hottest hitter. He homered later in the game, too, off reliever Nick Burdi.

“It's the beauty of our game, and you're always trying to figure out stuff like that,” Servais said. “The game within the game is fun. … All teams, you're looking for ways to gain some kind of advantage or not. All I know is that Dylan Moore is swinging the bat really well. I don't care if he knows what pitch is coming or not, you've still got to hit it.”

The Yankees, meanwhile, are working with Schmidt to prevent the issue from recurring.

“Look, this thing seems to come up a handful of times every year,” Boone said. “Obviously it's something that goes on in baseball, and all I can tell you is [it's] something that we're constantly vigilant on. Whether you're trying to gain an edge or just trying to keep your house clean, we're all over this kind of stuff, and nothing will change on that front.”