Blue Jays' Bo Bichette thinks Astros players should pay for sign stealing
Young shortstop questions sincerity of apologies from stars
Bo Bichette isn't satisfied with the way Major League Baseball has handled the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.
The cheating itself came as less of a shock to him.
"Cheating is cheating, people are going to do it … but when there are no consequences for it, that's probably a problem," the Blue Jays shortstop said Saturday at Toronto's spring training Facility in Dunedin, Fla.
"People do things they regret. But when you get away with it, it just becomes a bit bigger than it is. We'll move on from it, but it's a tough pill to swallow."
An MLB investigation found illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the Astros' run to the 2017 World Series championship and again during the 2018 season.
WATCH | Jamie Strashin looks at league-wide frustration over Astros' scandal:
Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year after the investigation by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred — then promptly fired by owner Jim Crane — and the Astros were fined $5 million US, the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution. The team must also forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.
But none of the players involved in the scandal have received any punishment.
'Lack of punishment bad for the game'
Cody Bellinger of the L.A. Dodgers, the team that lost to Houston in the 2017 World Series, was one of many players to speak out against the Astros as camps opened across Florida and Arizona this week.
Bellinger said Houston's Jose Altuve stole the American League MVP from New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in 2017 and he suspects the Astros kept scheming last season too.
"I think the way it was handled is probably bad for the game, the fact that those guys aren't getting in trouble," Bichette said. "I'm glad Bellinger stepped up and said something. I think more guys in his position need to. But like I said, I think it's more the [lack of] punishment that's bad for the game and not necessarily what happened."
MLB's investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a centre field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher's signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter's chances of getting a hit.
They got away with it, we'll move on and hopefully that's behind them and behind everybody.— Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette on the cheating Astros
"I believe if I know what's coming, I will hit .500, but I mean, it is what it is," Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. said through a translator. "For myself, I don't know, I don't like what happened."
Guerrero also believes the penalty handed down by MLB should have been extended to the players.
"It has been a while for them to be doing that. They should get some kind of punishment," he said.
Bichette not directly affected by Astros' cheating
Some of Houston's star players offered apologies at their spring training facility Thursday, but Bichette questioned their sincerity.
"It's been tough to watch, honestly," the 21-year-old said. "I don't know what they're really thinking. I don't know what their true intentions behind the apologies are. I don't know.
"From the outside looking in, it doesn't seem too apologetic. They got away with it, we'll move on and hopefully that's behind them and behind everybody."
Bichette and Guerrero were still in the minors during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and weren't directly affected by Houston's cheating. Bichette was 3-for-14 with five strikeouts in the three games he played against the Astros last year while Guerrero was 2-for-14 through five games.
Bichette said he would "absolutely not" have stolen signs the way Houston did over those two seasons, adding that he hoped he would make "a pretty big ruckus" if he found out a teammate was cheating.
"In a way it would be dumb to not take advantage of what we have, but at the same time I think that ... personally I'd be fine if there was no technology in there whatsoever," Bichette said. "I mean they did it back in the day, why can't we do it now?
"So I'm sure part of the reason they did what [the Astros] did, it is because of how easy the access was to it. And for me, I'd have no problem taking every bit of it away."
Astros' Correa lashes out at Bellinger
The Astros are lashing back at their critics, namely Bellinger.
Shortstop Carlos Correa responded to Bellinger's criticism from Friday, telling The Athletic and MLB Network on Saturday morning that the Dodgers' slugger is misinformed.
"The problem I have is when players go out there and they don't know the facts, they're not informed about the situation and they just go out there and go on camera and just talk," Correa said in an exclusive interview with Ken Rosenthal. "With me, that doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem right at all."
"I thought the apologies were, whatever," Bellinger told reporters in Glendale, Ariz., on Friday. "I thought [owner] Jim Crane's was weak. I thought [commissioner Rob] Manfred's punishment was weak, giving [the players] immunity."
Correa defended Crane.
"So he's calling our owner weak," Correa said. "Our owner, he's calling weak. A guy ... who made so much money that he could buy the Houston Astros, didn't know about what was going on early in 2017, and you're going to sit there because he's trying his best to protect our organization ...."
Correa does admit to the mistakes in judgment Astros players made in 2017 with their sign-stealing tactics.
"What we did in 2017, yeah, it was an advantage," Correa said during his interview with The Athletic. "Yeah, it was wrong. Yeah, we feel bad about it.
Because it's completely … it's just bad. It's a bad look for our organization. It's a bad look for us players."
Baker urges MLB to warn teams about comments
Astros manager Dusty Baker wants action from Major League Baseball: End the criticism of the Astros from across baseball over sign stealing, and take steps to ensure pitchers don't throw at his players.
"It's not good for the game, it's not good for kids to see it, so I think both," he said Saturday in West Palm Beach, Fla. "Stop the comments and also stop something before it happens."
Baker spoke in response to a wave of harsh comments during spring training about the Astros' use of video to steal signs in 2017 and 2018.
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said he wanted to hear the Astros use the word "cheated" when addressing the situation.
"I'm depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly premeditated retaliation that I'm hearing about," Baker said. "In most instances in life you get kind of reprimanded for when you have premeditated anything."
Los Angeles pitcher Ross Stripling indicated he might intentionally throw at Houston batters.
Houston ace Justin Verlander expects the commissioner's office to severely punish retaliation.
Verlander also said it is "wrong" to speculate that the Astros, specifically Altuve, used buzzers as part of the sign stealing.
"We were successful in the World Series last year. All that stuff about buzzers and all that stuff is simply not true," he said. "People can speculate all they want. We dug our grave. We're in it. I think emphatically everybody made it very clear that that wasn't true."
With files from Field Level Media & The Associated Press