Red Sox

Mike Yastrzemski fulfills dream, receives standing ovation at Fenway Park

Mike Yastrzemski fulfills dream, receives standing ovation at Fenway Park

UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: Yazstremski hit a home run to center field in his third at-bat in the fourth inning off Nathan Eovaldi to extend the Giants 5-1 lead. It was his 20th homer of the season.

Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, made his Fenway Park debut Tuesday night as a member of the San Francisco Giants. 

In his first at-bat, the Fenway faithful rose to their feet and gave the younger Yaz a well-deserved standing ovation.

Check it out.

Playing at Fenway is something he's always dreamed of, and before he took the field, he noted he was looking forward to soaking in and appreciating the experience. 

Although he was excited to take the same field and patrol the same position in left field in front of the Green Monster where his grandfather once played, Yastrzemski noted that being in the stands for the 1999 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby at Fenway were more overwhelming than the thought of actually playing in Boston. 

Playing in such a historic ballpark is memorable to begin with, but Yastrzemski, 29, will be battling some pretty tough expectations throughout the Giants' three-game series at Fenway. It doesn't seem like he'll let that get to him though.

The Andover, Mass., native is putting together a nice rookie season for the Giants with a .265 batting average, 19 home runs, 51 RBI and a .833 OPS. What's more interesting about those stats, though, is that they almost mirror his grandfather's rookie season with Boston -- .266 with 11 homers, 80 RBI and a .721 OPS. 

Before the game, Yastrzemski and his grandfather took a stroll through left. We can only imagine what they talked about -- probably discussing how to play the Monster. 

While the younger Yaz had plenty of family watching him make his Fenway debut. His 80-year-old grandfather left the park before the game began (he said he'd be too nervous to watch in person) but said he'll be back at Fenway for the games Wednesday and Thursday. 

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There's only one way Astros sign-stealing story blows back on Red Sox, and we're not there yet

There's only one way Astros sign-stealing story blows back on Red Sox, and we're not there yet

Let's say for the sake of argument that Alex Cora played the role of lead drummer when the 2017 Astros were stealing signs like a merry band of trash-can pounding subway buskers.

So what?

That's an institutional crime and Houston should pay the price, not a former bench coach. Think of it like Deflategate. The Patriots deserved their punishment, but taking Tom Brady within a whisker of the Supreme Court was overkill.

Here's where things get dicey. What if Cora imported some of Houston's less savory tactics to Boston, a team that has already been censured by MLB — under former manager John Farrell, to be fair — for using Apple watches to help steal signs in 2017?

Because Cora and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson were both members of that compromised Astros staff, and because the arms race to gain even a tiny edge can very easily blur the line between gamesmanship and fraud, the only way this story truly becomes relevant to the Red Sox is if an MLB investigation reveals that Boston has enacted some of Houston's worst practices over the last two seasons.

There's no evidence that the Red Sox have deployed technology with similar nefariousness, and the numbers under Cora don't reveal any wild home-road splits. Since 2013, for instance, the Red Sox have outperformed their road OPS at Fenway Park by anywhere from 3.34 percent (2014) to 17.65 percent (2015). Cora's two Red Sox clubs fall in the middle of that range — 9.66 percent in 2018 and 7.33 percent last year.

In conversations with multiple executives at this week's GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., one theme emerged consistently — the Astros don't consider their actions cheating, because they believe they live in a world where Everybody is Doing It, and if they happen to be better at finding those edges at the margins, that's not their problem. Don't hate 'em 'cuz you ain't 'em, so to speak.

This issue has burst into the public eye because The Athletic has broken a series of stories about the Astros stealing signs. Former Astros reporter Evan Drellich and national writer Ken Rosenthal first reported that the Astros stole signs in 2017 by positioning a center field camera on the opposing catcher, connecting it to a monitor outside the dugout, and banging on a trash can in real time to warn the hitter when a breaking ball was coming.

The Athletic followed up on Wednesday night with a report that Cora and Mets manager Carlos Beltran — Houston's DH in 2017 — will also be summoned as part of MLB's investigation. ESPN added that the league has already spoken to Bjornson, who served as Houston's bullpen coach in 2017.

While the involvement of Cora and Bjornson makes this tangentially a Red Sox story, for the time being it's just an Astros story. That will change if MLB determines the ex-Astros didn't want to fall behind their former team in the information race after they arrived in Boston, but so far there's no indication that they're under suspicion.

Making all of this murkier is Cora's well-earned reputation for sign stealing and pitch tipping. He was considered one of the best in the game at these very particular skills as a player, and he hasn't lost his touch as a manager. Of course, there's a big difference between noting glove placement on a fastball and cracking opposing signals on a high def monitor over the toilet next to the dugout.

So let the Astros take the heat on this one, at least for now. If something changes, we can reconvene.

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Report: Alex Cora played 'key role' in Astros' sign-stealing operation

Report: Alex Cora played 'key role' in Astros' sign-stealing operation

Alex Cora was the Houston Astros' bench coach in 2017. The Astros have been accused of using an elaborate operation to steal signs in 2017.

Sounds like Cora has some explaining to do.

The current Boston Red Sox manager played a "key role" in devising Houston's electronic sign-stealing system along with Astros manager A.J. Hinch and then-designated hitter/outfielder Carlos Beltran, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported Wednesday night.

Major League Baseball is "virtually certain" to interview Cora, Hinch and Beltran as it investigates the Astros, Rosenthal and Drellich added.

Here's how Houston's system worked: The team set up a camera in center field at Minute Maid Park that fed to a television monitor fixed on a wall between the home dugout and the Astros' clubhouse. Club employees and players would watch that monitor to identify the catcher's signs and relay them to the hitter by banging loudly on a trash can in the hallway.

Cora was second in command to Hinch as Houston's bench coach, so it wouldn't be surprising if he was heavily involved in the setup and/or execution of this system. Drellich and Rosenthal added that Hinch, Cora and Beltran -- now manager of the New York Mets -- weren't the only team members involved in the scheme.

Cora left the Astros right after they won the 2017 World Series to become manager of the Red Sox (who also were accused of stealing signs in 2017). The 44-year-old Puerto Rico native is trying to return Boston to relevancy after a disappointing 2019 campaign, but he may have to answer for his past first.

UPDATE (9:20 a.m. ET): Cora addressed his role in Houston's sign-stealing scheme Thursday morning in a brief statement to The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham:

"At this time MLB and the Astros are conducting an investigation. It would be irresponsible on my part to comment while it’s going on."

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