Phillies

Phillies reliever David Robertson blasts cheating Houston Astros

Phillies reliever David Robertson blasts cheating Houston Astros

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Add David Robertson’s name to the list of pitchers who believe they were victimized by the Houston Astros’ cheating scheme in 2017.

“It’s a disgrace what they’ve done and they’re going to have to live with it and everyone knows,” Robertson said on Wednesday.

Robertson enjoyed a brilliant stretch drive for the New York Yankees in 2017. After being traded from the Chicago White Sox, he pitched in 30 games for the Yankees and allowed just four runs.

In the first two rounds of the playoffs that year, he pitched eight innings and allowed just one run.

His dominance that season ended suddenly in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros. He entered with the Yankees down, 3-1, in the bottom of the eighth inning and was torched for four runs while failing to retire any of the four batters he faced. Jose Altuve greeted Robertson with a home run, Carlos Correa doubled, Yuli Gurriel singled and Alex Bregman stroked a two-run double. Houston rolled to a 7-1 win to tie the series and won it the next night. The Astros then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Two years later, it was revealed that the Astros used an illicit, technology-based sign-stealing scheme to cheat their way to the championship.

Details of the scheme cleared up a few things in Robertson’s mind.

“I got roughed up in Game 6,” he said. “And I felt like in that game I threw as well as I’ve ever thrown in my entire life. I had some pitches that got hit that I was a little shocked by and some pitches that didn’t get swung at that I was a little shocked by. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about what we know now. But it all comes together now and, you know, I’m upset about it, that’s for sure.

“I’m never going to get 2017 back. I can’t say moving forward I’ll never get to pitch in a LCS again, but I’ll never get that season back with that group of guys and that opportunity to win a World Series.

“Like I said, I’m still upset about it. I don’t want to say something I’m going to regret but I’m definitely not happy about it.”

Robertson signed with the Phillies before the 2019 season and is currently working his way back from elbow surgery. He is expected to pitch in the second half of the season.

During his time with the Yankees, Robertson was a teammate of Carlos Beltran. Beltran played in Houston in 2017 and was one of the ringleaders of the cheating scheme. It cost him his job as manager of the New York Mets last month.

Robertson said he was surprised by Beltran’s involvement.

“I always respected him as a player, especially being a veteran player on our team when I got a chance to play with him in New York,” Robertson said. “I enjoyed the way he played and the way he went about his business. He’s got to live with it.”

Robertson was asked whether he believed the Astros’ 2017 title was tainted.

“Tough to say,” he said. “I don’t have all the facts. I don’t know which games and what times, I just know that one game I was in, I was really good and I got roughed up pretty hard. We lost every game down there and we won every game in New York. So … that being said, those are the facts I know.”

Robertson lockers just a few feet away from Francisco Liriano in the Phillies’ spring clubhouse. Liriano joined the 2017 Astros in a late-season trade with Toronto. He has heard the talk about the legitimacy of the World Series ring he won with the Astros.

“To be honest, I didn’t know anything about what was going on,” Liriano said. “So, you know, I don’t have much to say about it. I was in the bullpen. I didn’t see anything going on when I was there. I don’t have much to say about it.

“We had some great players, too. It’s just hard for me to say. Because you don’t want to be the team that was cheating to win the World Series. It’s hard for me to say what my feelings are. It’s hard. It’s hard.”

Robertson has not watched any video of the beating he took in Game 6 of the ALCS.

“I don’t want to relive it,” he said.

“I’m upset about it but I’m not going to let it ruin my life. I’m moving forward and trying to win another World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies.”

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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