Houston Astros owner: Sign-stealing ‘didn’t impact the game’ in 2017

Jim Crane, Dusty Baker

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and manager Dusty Baker during the team’s press conference before spring training in Florida.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (KXAN) – Houston Astros executives, coaches and players delivered statements at a press conference Thursday from their spring training facility in Florida, regarding the sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 season that led to the firings and suspensions of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane opened the press conference with an apology.

“I want to say again how sorry our team is for what happened,” Crane said. “I also want to make clear that this will never happen again on my watch. MLB made it clear that people leading the baseball operations and field operations should be held accountable, and I agree with them.”

There was a team meeting Wednesday, and new Astros manager Dusty Baker said the players “showed tremendous remorse, sorrow and embarrassment,” for what happened. The team used monitors, cameras and other technology to steal signs from opposing teams, and while the fallout has been felt by team executives and managers, none of the players have been punished.

“MLB acknowledged that the players should not be punished for the failure of our leadership,” Crane said. “I also agree with that. These are a great group of guys who did not receive proper guidance from their leaders.”

Crane went on to say, based on the report by the league, “it could have been stopped, and it wasn’t. People had knowledge of it, based on the report. We hold the two guys (Hinch and Luhnow) accountable for not stopping that action.”

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said at an owners’ meeting earlier this month that he was “as upset as anybody,” when he learned about the sign-stealing tactics by the Astros.

“Certainly, there were direct implications to my organization (and) our 2017 team,” he said.

When asked about Steinbrenner’s comments, Crane disagreed.

“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team. We won the World Series, and we’ll leave it at that.”

When asked to clarify that statement, he said, “basically, what the commissioner said in his report, he’s not going to go backward. It’s hard to determine how it impacted the game, if it impacted the game, and we’ll just leave it at that.”

The Astros beat the Yankees in seven games to win the American League championship in 2017.

Crane also refuted reports of Astros players wearing buzzers or other electronic devices in 2019, in order to know what pitches were coming.

“I’ve discussed it with the players, and they’ve assured me nothing like that ever happened,” Crane said. “The commissioner addressed that in the report, and I’m confident it’s accurate. I truly believe there were no buzzers, ever.”

In a brief remark, Astros star infielder Alex Bregman apologized for not just the team, but himself, and thanked fans for sticking with the club during the fallout.

“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me,” he said. “I have learned from this, and hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.”

Carlos Beltran, an Astros player in 2017 who was set to manage the New York Mets, was fired before he managed his first game. Alex Cora, the bench coach for the Astros and alleged dugout leader of the scheme, was fired from his managerial job with the Boston Red Sox. His punishment has yet to be handed down by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, but many feel it could be, and should be, worse than Hinch’s one-year suspension.

Along with Baker, the Astros hired James Click as the team’s new general manager.

Executives for the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A minor league affiliate of the Astros, addressed the media during a team event at Dell Diamond in January.

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