Boston Red Sox face MLB investigation over allegations of using watch in sign-stealing attempt against New York Yankees
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred looking for a quick resolution to the case which came from matches played in August.
Looking for any edge in an age-old rivalry, the Boston Red Sox have been accused of using a high-tech sign-stealing scheme they ran on the New York Yankees.
The first-place Red Sox admitted to Major League Baseball that they used an Apple Watch to relay signals from opposing catchers to Boston players, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Sign stealing has long been a part of the game, but employing electronic gadgets to do it is against the rules.
MLB is looking into allegations levied by the Yankees after a series between the teams last month in Boston.
The Times said the Red Sox told MLB investigators that Boston manager John Farrell, general Dave Dombrowski and other team executives were not aware of the operation, which had been going on for weeks.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was at Fenway Park on Tuesday night as part of a previously planned visit, said he wanted to get the matter resolved quickly. He didn't comment about possible penalties.
"The only thing that I can tell you about repercussions is that to the extent that there was a violation on either side — and I'm not saying that there was — to the extent that there was a violation on either side, we are 100 percent comfortable that it is not an ongoing issue — that if it happened, it is no longer happening," he said.
The Red Sox hold a narrow lead over the Yankees in the AL East race with a month left in the regular season. The teams don't play again this season.
Farrell said he knew the rule.
"Electronic devices are not to be used in the dugout," he said on Tuesday before Boston hosted the Toronto Blue Jays. "But beyond that, the only thing I can say it's a league matter at this point."
Dombrowski said it was the first time a team he'd worked for had been formally accused of stealing signs.
"I've been in the game for 40 years. I've known of it for 40 years, sign stealing itself," Dombrowski said. "I've known of people that I talk to that played back in the '50's that talked to me about sign stealing, so I do think sign stealing has been taking place for a long time. I will acknowledge that."
The Times, according to unidentified sources, said the MLB probe started after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a complaint with the commissioner's office that included video. The newspaper said the video showed a member of Boston's training staff looking at his Apple Watch in the dugout and relaying a message to players.
"I think there was something that was suspected of going on," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said before Tuesday night's game in Baltimore.
The Times said the Red Sox filed a complaint Tuesday against the Yankees, alleging the club used a camera from its YES television network to steal opponents' signs.
"No chance," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Said Manfred: "I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective, when you have the kind of rivalry that the Yankees and the Red Sox have. I guess it's not shocking you could have charges and counter-charges like this."
The Times said the Red Sox told MLB investigators that club personnel watched monitors and then electronically sent pitch signals to team trainers in the dugout, who relayed the information to players.
The newspaper said video showed Boston assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim checking his Apple Watch and relaying the info to Red Sox players Brock Holt and second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
The newspaper said one clip showed Pedroia passing along the intelligence to Boston outfielder Chris Young, who formerly played for the Yankees.
The Red Sox won two of three from the Yankees during the series August 18-20.
The Times reported that in the first game, after Boston first put a runner on second, Rafael Devers hit a home run. The Red Sox went 5 for 8 in that game when they had a runner at second and won 9-6.
Sign stealing to help hitters know what pitch is coming has long been a part of baseball lore. Often times it happens when a runner at second base peers in to see the catcher's sign and then subtly flashes a signal — maybe a hand movement, or the positioning of his feet — to the batter to let him know whether the next pitch will be a fastball, curveball or something else.
Players are allowed to try to figure out the opponents' signals on their own. Computers, cameras and electronics are not permitted, and the leagues are on alert over how to control improprieties.
Updated: September 6, 2017 12:29 PM