Houston Astros' Alex Bregman (right) delivers a statement regarding the 2017 sign-stealing scheme as Astros owner Jim Crane listens during a news conference before the start of the first official spring training baseball practice for the team Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP
Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP

In apology, Astros owner says sign stealing ‘didn’t impact the game’

Astros owner Jim Crane and new manager Dusty Baker — who replaced the fired AJ Hinch — also spoke at a news conference at the team’s spring training facility. 

» MARK BRADLEY: MLB bungled the Astros affair

And while the clear purpose was to say, “We’re sorry” and hope to move on, Crane raised eyebrows with this statement: “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series. And we’ll leave it at that.” 

Asked moments later about his statement about the effects on the game, Crane tried to backtrack, saying, “It”s hard to determine how it impacted the game, if it impacted the game.”

Several former Astros players, including one-time Atlanta Braves Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel have publicly addressed the scheme. A recent published report indicated former Braves catcher Brian McCann made a futile attempt of asking Astros teammate Carlos Beltran to stop the operation. Some reports have pinned Beltran — who lost his job as Mets manager following MLB’s investigation — as one of the co-conspirators of the scheme.

MLB did not punish any players for the cheating and Crane said he stood by that. 

“We’re not going to do anything to the players,” the owner said. 

Altuve said there was a full team meeting Wednesday to discuss what happened.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred disciplined the Astros after he found the team broke rules by using electronics to steal signs during its run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. 

The Astros were fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under major league rules, and forfeited their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks. 

The investigation found the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to view and decode opposing catchers’ signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve chances of getting a hit. 

Crane said the scheme was used in 2017 and part of 2018, but ended during that season. 

He said there was nothing to the notion that Astros hitters used buzzers to get information about pitches. 

“I truly believe there was no buzzers, ever,” he said.

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