The Houston Astros are alleged to have stolen signs electronically throughout the 2017 season, The Athletic reported on Tuesday.
Major League Baseball rules prohibit MLB teams from using electronics to see a catcher’s signs to the pitcher.
The Athletic talked to four people associated with the Astros in 2017, the year they won their only World Series. Among them was pitcher Mike Fiers, who reported the team used a camera stationed in the outfield at Minute Maid Park to steal signs during home games.
The report said the feed from the camera appeared on a television monitor that was located steps from the Astros’ dugout. Players and team employees would look at the monitor and when they figured out what pitch was coming, they would relay it by banging on a trash can. A bang on the trash can typically indicated a changeup or breaking ball was coming, The Athletic said.
Fiers pitched for the Detroit Tigers (2018) and Oakland Athletics (2018-19) and told those teams about the Astros’ alleged sign stealing.
“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said.
“I had to let my team know so that we were prepared when we went to go play them at Minute Maid.”
The Astros aren’t the only team accused of stealing signs, MLB said in a statement to The Athletic.
“As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season,” Major League Baseball said. “We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps.”
The Astros declined to comment to The Athletic.
MLB already is investigating the Astros and their team culture after former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman made inappropriate remarks to three female reporters in October.
—Field Level Media