The Houston Astros gathered Thursday on the first day of spring training to express how sorry they were for electronically stealing signs during the 2017 season.
However, owner Jim Crane and select players also faced questions regarding rumors the Astros wore buzzers underneath their jerseys last season.
“The commissioner addressed that in the report. I’m confident it’s accurate. I discussed it with the players. … I truly believe there were no buzzers,” Crane told reporters at the team’s spring training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I don’t even know where that came from.”
After the commissioner’s report, which found extensive cheating within the Astros ranks, was released, the team fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. But accusations of the buzzers began circulating online and through various player interviews across the league.
But shortstop Carlos Correa categorically denied the buzzer claims.
“No. No. That’s a lie. Nobody wore a buzzer. Nobody wore devices,” Correa told reporters. “The story should be killed already because we know for sure, we are 100 percent (sure) as a team. … It’s just straight-up false. 2018, nothing. 2019, nothing. 2017 nobody wore devices either. It was just what was in the report.”
“Absolutely not,” outfielder George Springer said. “Absolutely not.”
Said former Cy Young winner and Astros ace Justin Verlander: “I see these guys before the game, after the game, dressing and undressing, and I never saw anything like that.”
And Josh Reddick’s response to the same question: “No. Not to my knowledge.”
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman denied the buzzer allegations last month at the team’s fan fest.
Among the most oft-used clips to demonstrate the possible use of wearable devices was was footage of Altuve seeming to ask his teammates not to rip his jersey off following his walk-off homer against the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS that sent the team to the World Series. (Altuve, through his agent Scott Boras, has previously denied the claim.)
Chapman was asked about the possibility at Yankees camp Thursday.
“I’ve seen that video — a lot of people have seen that video; it’s a popular video right now,” he said, per ESPN. “And yeah, if you look at his actions, they look a little suspicious. At the end of the day, I just don’t know. I can’t tell you if he had the sign or didn’t have the sign — I don’t know. That’s a good question for him, and for those guys. I just don’t know.”
Hinch, suspended and later fired for not stopping the cheating ring under his watch, added a level of skepticism to the buzzer claims when he was asked point-blank about the method during a MLB Network interview last week and did not deny the claims. He instead referred to the Commissioner’s report.
But late Wednesday, Hinch clarified his remarks; to his knowledge, he said, the team did not wear buzzers.
“To be clear, I have never seen any such device used in baseball. I am not aware of any such device existing or being utilized with the Astros, the players, or any other team,” he said in a statement to Sports Illustrated.