FORT MYERS, Fla. — The apology tour began Tuesday on the first day of Minnesota Twins camp, the opening act for what should be a prevailing theme around spring training.
On this day, it was utilityman Marwin Gonzalez of the Twins apologizing for illegally stealing signs during their 2017 World Series championship season.
“I’m remorseful for everything that happened in 2017,’’ Gonzalez said, “everything that we did as a group. And the players that were affected directly by us doing this and other things.
“That’s what I feel the most regret, and am remorseful.’’
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Gonzalez, who is entering his second year with the Twins, appeared nervous and anxious during his 4 ½-minute press conference. He knew he would have to answer questions.
After all, no player was more informed of the pitches coming in 2017 than Gonzalez, according to data accumulated by Astros fan Tony Adams on SignStealingScandal.com. There was trash can banging on 147 of 776 pitches when Gonzalez was batting at home, meaning that 18.9% of the time he was being notified which pitches were coming.
Gonzalez had the best year of his career in 2017, hitting .303 with a career-high 23 homers and 90 RBI, and a .907 on-base-plus slugging percentage.
Gonzalez didn’t get into specifics or talk about how much the sign-stealing benefited him or his teammates, only that he wants to apologize for his actions, specifically to his teammates – pitchers Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill – who were part of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ team that lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series.
He says he feels worse for those pitchers whose careers were adversely affected such as former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who field a lawsuit Monday against the Astros for unfair business practices and negligence.
“That’s the part I feel most remorseful,’’ Gonzalez said, “the players that were directly affected. I mean, I wish we could take it back and do it a different way. But there’s nothing we can do. I just want to move forward.’’
Still, it’s not going to go away. Not now. Not a month from now. Maybe not for a long time.
That 2017 World Series banner will hang forever in Minute Maid Park, but its meaning will be distorted, depending on who happens to be looking at it.
Gonzalez has his World Series ring and the World Series bonus, but is the title tarnished forever?
“That’s hard to say, and that’s hard to speculate,’’ Gonzalez said, “because I still think we have one of the best teams in the last decade. A great talent. I hope we could take it back, but there’s nothing we can do.’’
Would they have won the World Series without the cheating?
“Well, that’s hard to measure, that’s hard to know,’’ Gonzalez said. “You’re never going to know. That was a great team. Great guys, too, besides everything that happened. It’s hard to answer that question.’’
Gonzalez also refused to answer, or even venture a guess, whether anyone on the team tried to stop the cheating.
It’s over now. It won’t change anything. Just like the way he is viewed, he can’t control what people think of him now.
Yet, he realizes that while the controversy may die quickly in the Twins’ camp, the Astros won’t have that luxury. He feels for the scrutiny his former teammates will face all season.
“I’m sure they will, that’s how it is,’’ Gonzalez said. “They’re going to get booed. Hopefully, they can get through that.’’
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale