WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – On Thursday morning in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Houston Astros held their first workout of 2020 spring training for pitchers and catchers, but the focus was obviously on the commissioner’s report that stated the Astros cheated in 2017 and 2018.
Once the Astros opened up their clubhouse to the large group of media, the team answered lots of questions about the punishment that was handed out to the team, based on sign-stealing with the use of technology.
Here’s what we learned.
Carlos Correa strongly disagrees with how Carlos Beltran has been portrayed as an intimidating figure in the clubhouse
“The thing that I had a problem with when I read that report (in The Athletic) is that we were scared of him or we were intimidated. We didn’t feel scared of Beltran, didn’t feel intimidated. He was the nicest guy that we could ever have. He was the best teammate you could ever have.
"Beltran was obviously a leader of the clubhouse, but we all had a say in everything we were doing in there. We had the chance to stop it as a team. Everybody had a chance to say something and we didn’t.
"Whoever the anonymous source who is saying that we feel intimidated or we were too young to say something, that is straight-up (B.S.).”
Correa issued a strong denial about whether buzzers or devices were used by any players in 2019, 2018 or 2017
“No, no. That’s a lie. Nobody wore buzzers. Nobody wore devices. That story should be killed already. We know for sure, for a fact, 100% as a team. And I can tell this story keeps coming out and if I’m lying here I lose credibility if something like that comes out and that’s not what I want to do. You guys know me. I want to speak the truth every time I see you guys. It’s just straight-up false. Nobody wore anything -- 2018, nothing; 2019, nothing; 2017, nobody wore devices either. It’s just what you saw on the report.
"People talk about 2018 -- we started the season doing something. We didn’t do anything -- no trash can, there was no center field camera, there was nothing. Maybe that Codebreaker, but that had nothing to do with the players, so I don’t know when that stopped or anything. But yeah, 2018, nothing; 2019, nothing. Just straight-up talented players going out there on the field, winning ball games and showing their talents.”
Alex Bregman is obviously considered a leader of the team, joined Jose Altuve at the podium issuing a statement
He did acknowledge that what they did was wrong. He was asked, “Did you know at the time it was wrong.”
His answer: “I think everybody here, today, is apologizing for that.”
He also added: “I hope the fans know that we learned from this. Also, I want to thank the Astros fans for their support throughout this time.”
Common theme: I should have done more
Many players talked about moving on and talked about their regret for the situation they are in now and how it affected the game of baseball. Nearly all that spoke shared one very similar sentiment: I should have done more. That goes for pitchers and position players and also mirrors the comments of their suspended and now-fired former manager A.J. Hinch.
Astros outfielder George Springer said: “I think it’s just tough. It’s a situation that, until you find yourself in, you never really know what to do. I wish I had done more.”
Justin Verlander guarded with some of his comments
A brief portion of the 2019 Cy Young award winner’s question-and-answer session went like this:
Verlander: “Yeah, I mean it’s been difficult. You know, showing up in 2017, and once I spent some time there and understood what was happening, I wish I had said more. Looking back, I can’t go back, reverse my decision. I wish I said more, and I didn’t and for that I’m sorry.”
Reporter: "What did you say?
Verlander: “That’s between myself and my teammates and I’ll leave it at that.”
Reporter: “What was your first reaction when you first saw what was going on?”
Verlander: “I don’t want to get into too many specifics. I think we’re here today to apologize as a team, and those opinions were expressed by everyone in here today.”