Red Sox

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy gives unique take on Astros' sign-stealing

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy gives unique take on Astros' sign-stealing

Newly signed Boston Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy had the unfortunate experience of seeing the Houston Astros' sign-stealing operation firsthand over the last three years.

Major League Baseball handed down unprecedented punishments to the Astros in January after completing an investigation on Houston's in-depth system created to illegally steal signs from opponents. 

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Lucroy played on three different American League West teams from 2016 through 2019, including the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. Those teams play the Astros nearly 20 times per season as division rivals, so Lucroy was well aware of Houston's actions when it came to stealing signs and relaying them to batters.

Lucroy offered a unique perspective on that experience while speaking to reporters Thursday at spring training.

"I knew about that two years ago, that it was going on," Lucroy said. "I know it just recently came out, but everybody in baseball, especially in that division who played against them, we were all aware of the Astros doing those things. It was up to us to outsmart them, I guess you could say, which is kinda hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs.

"We actively changed signs -- almost every pitch we were changing signs. You had to because they had them -- they would relay them to second base. They were stealing them from first, too, from between your legs. They had a very intricate system going on. We were well aware of it. It was a challenge. It was a mental challenge to really overcome that. It's easier said than done. It's a shame. I'm glad it came out and was brought to light because it needed to -- it was getting out of hand. I was in that division for three years on different teams playing against them.

"There were times they were on every single pitch, and you're like how are they doing this? How is this happening? When we found out how, it was like, we got to change up signs a lot, and we did, and the swings actually got worse whenever we started to change the signs up all the time."

Lucroy also revealed that during his Athletics tenure, the team alerted the MLB to what was going on, but he doesn't think the league did much to stop the Astros.

"It was crazy. Some of the pitches they would take, it was like, man, these guys are some of the best hitters I've ever seen," Lucroy said. "It all made sense when I found out how they were doing it. Then it was like, what are we going to do? I was with Oakland, and we had let MLB know, and they just called and said something. They didn't go through the whole investigation. It wasn't until (Mike) Fiers came out publicly that they went and looked at it really hard."

Players around the league have not been shy about bashing the Astros, the MLB, and commissioner Rob Manfred for how this scandal has been handled. Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger even went so far to say Astros second baseman Jose Altuve stole the 2017 AL MVP from New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.

The first matchup in between the Red Sox and Astros at Fenway Park is May 22. Every Red Sox fan should circle that date on their calendar. 

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Who are the best catchers in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best catchers in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

For a position so essential to baseball — no player handles the ball more often — the catching ranks in Red Sox history are surprisingly shallow.

Multiple seasons belong to players like Johnny Peacock, Pinch Thomas, Hick Cady, Roxy Walters, and Muddy Ruel, names that sound like they should belong to bouncers before big leaguers.

The dearth of catching talent may partly explain why the Red Sox routinely featured lousy starting rotations, at least until Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Co. arrived to give the club perennial Cy Young contenders no matter who squatted behind the plate.

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Had this list extended to 10 instead of five, some of the names would surprise you. Wally Schang, anyone? How about Bill Carrigan? There'd definitely be room for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Anyway, the overall talent level may be thin, but the top five are legit, with three All-Stars and two Hall of Famers.

Click here for the top five catchers in Red Sox history.

Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Dave Roberts says former Red Sox Mookie Betts 'loves' being a Dodger

Are Dave Roberts' latest comments about Mookie Betts just wishful thinking or reality?

The Los Angeles Dodgers manager said some interesting things about his new right fielder on ESPN's "The Sedano Show" Monday, including that he knows how Betts feels about being in Dodger blue.

I think him being in spring training with us — the relationship I have with him personally, and I think some players too, and coaches — it feels like he’s already played a season with us, which is strange. … Mookie’s gotta do what’s best for him and his family once that time does present itself, but I know that he loves being a Dodger.

After just eight spring training games, Betts "loves" being a Dodger? It seems like a stretch, but maybe getting out of Boston was that much of a relief for the 27-year-old.

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With the 2020 season on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak, it's possible we never see Betts play a regular-season game for the Dodgers. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association agreed on a settlement that would let all pending free agents hit the open market if the coming season is canceled.

Betts, the 2018 American League MVP and World Series champion, likely will test free agency come 2021, and the Dodgers will have to pay a hefty price to keep him in L.A. 

If Dodgers ownership and team president Andrew Friedman decide to shell out the cash, then Betts will probably "love" being a Dodger even more.