New York Yankees

Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The story that won’t go away wended its way through Phillies camp Thursday in the form of a 22-second video of Joe Girardi talking about illicit sign-stealing.

The video was plucked from a segment on sign-stealing that Girardi participated in during his time with the MLB Network. It was taped in mid-October, just before he was named Phillies manager.

In the video, analyst and former big-league pitcher Al Leiter asks Girardi, “What did you guys use?”

The question is accompanied by some laughs but it’s clear that Leiter is asking what means the New York Yankees used to pick up signs during Girardi’s time as manager of that club from 2008 to 2017.

Girardi responds by saying, “I was part of a system …” He then explains how signs were detected “upstairs” and relayed down to the dugout and field.

At first blush, it sounds rather incriminating. 

Until you hear how Girardi punctuates his comment.

“We eventually caught it,” he says in the video.

Girardi knew the video had been making the rounds — he said it made him laugh — and was prepared to answer questions about it after Thursday's workout.

“If people listen to the whole video, you can put 2 and 2 together and know what I’m talking about,” he said. “We caught them.”

Caught who?

There was a long pause.

“Put 2 and 2 together,” he said.

The implication was that Girardi was talking about the Houston Astros, who were nailed for illegal sign-stealing during the 2017 season. The Astros eliminated Girardi’s Yankees in the ALCS that season and went on to win the World Series.

But he may have been talking about the Boston Red Sox, an AL East rival of the Yankees, who are also under investigation for stealing signs illegally.

Who knows?

As fallout from the cheating scandal has engulfed baseball in the early weeks of spring training, Girardi has been mostly reserved while speaking with Philadelphia reporters about the topic. The emergence of the MLB Network video resulted in him being more expansive Thursday.

Girardi was asked about his saying, “I was part of a system” in the video.

“Yeah, the system was our system caught the other group,” he said. “If you listen to the whole video, we caught the other team. It was coming from upstairs to someone in the dugout and then relayed one way or another. I laugh because people are cutting it up and trying to make it something.

“It wasn’t our team doing it. We caught the other team doing it. And I think part of this is why the Commissioner has put out some of these rules and I think it’s important that we protect the integrity of the game because that is really important to me.”

Girardi was asked if his team reported the violating team to MLB.

“As a manager, I personally don’t, but that doesn’t mean that the team I was on didn’t,” he said.

The video dealt extensively with the importance of teams protecting their signs from being stolen and that has been a theme of Girardi’s first camp with the Phillies.

“A lot of people want to talk about what happened in 2017, ‘18, ’19,” he said. “No. It’s what we do moving forward, guys, that’s important to me.

“It’s complicated in a lot of manners and guarding your signs is really difficult today with all the cameras and everything you can see. So you have to be really clever. It’s hard.”

MLB is expected to come up with tighter guidelines regarding access to video around the dugout before opening day. One possible solution would be locking down the video room at game time. But that comes with complications because teams need access to instant replay to challenge umpire calls.

“I don’t know if I’ve thought through it enough because I know players like watching their at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think the replay room has caused a lot of consequences that they did not foresee. And I’m a proponent of replay. I think it’s important. But there’s some consequences that I don’t know any of us foresaw as we put this is in because it’s usually right next to the video room."

One potential solution is barring players from watching video during the games — it seemed to work OK for Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt — and moving those who keep tabs on potential replay challenges upstairs to the press/broadcast level.

Girardi said he wouldn’t mind if those who oversee replay challenges moved upstairs but he’s not sure about closing off the video room to players.

“I don’t know what the right answer is because players like watching their at-bats,” he said.

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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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Phillies sign Ronald Torreyes to compete for roster spot

Phillies sign Ronald Torreyes to compete for roster spot

The Phillies added another candidate for a utility position when they announced the signing of veteran infielder Ronald Torreyes to a minor-league contract on Tuesday. Torreyes, 27, received an invite to major-league spring training camp, where he will audition for a reserve role with the club.

The Phils also made official the signing of catcher Christian Bethancourt to a minor-league deal. He, too, will attend big-league camp.

Torres played in 236 big-league games with the Dodgers, Yankees and Twins over the last five seasons. He saw extensive duty with the Yankees in 2016 and 2017 when Joe Girardi managed that club. Girardi was hired by the Phillies in October.

Over parts of five seasons in the majors, Torreyes has hit .279 with four homers, 57 RBIs and a .308 on-base percentage in 592 at-bats. He plays second base, shortstop and third base.

Torreyes joins Josh Harrison and Phil Gosselin as veteran infielders who will be in camp with the Phils on minor-league deals. All have big-league time and could be in play for a spot with the team as rosters jump from 25 to 26 men in 2020. Previously, the Phils signed outfielders Matt Szczur and Mikie Mahtook to minor-league contracts that included invites to big-league camp.

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