Major League Baseball said Wednesday the Houston Astros did not violate any rules by having a person monitor the Red Sox dugout from the nearby photo pit during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on Saturday.
MLB said it was contacted by “a number of Clubs” to express concerns about sign stealing and how video equipment was being used, and that it has reminded all playoff teams of the rules and established new practices regarding the use of video during games. It also said it considers the matter, which surfaced during Game 3 Tuesday night, to be closed.
Astros general manager and president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow said his team was “playing defense” and trying to ensure compliance by the Red Sox by placing someone near the Red Sox dugout.
“There’s a lot of technology in ballparks these days: video cameras and high-speed camera and high-magnification cameras, etc. and monitors showing the live feed. So when we go into an opposing ballpark, we tend to look around and make sure that we don’t see any suspicious activity,” Luhnow told reporters Wednesday at Minute Maid Park prior to Game 4 of the series.
“We’ve been doing that as a matter of course for a while and I will tell you that most of the time we think we see something suspicious we look into it and it’s a fan doing something or a monitor for some reason that should be there used for a good purpose.
“But every once in a while — and there have been multiple instances of us identifying suspicious activity — we reported it to MLB and we looked into it ourselves on certain cases and certain instances. We feel like it’s a value-added thing for us to do. That being said, MLB would prefer that we don’t look into it ourselves; that if we see something suspicious we relay it to them. And we’re going to abide by that going forward.
“That’s essentially what happened. We were playing defense; we were not playing offense. We wanted to assure a level playing field. We’ve, at times, had someone from the travel party go out to center field and look at a particular area that might be suspicious or go check out a certain monitor. I’m not speaking for other clubs. I’m sure other clubs do this as well. We’re just trying to protect ourselves.”
There is a widespread perception in baseball that the Astros are playing as much offense as defense. Luhnow denied that.
“When your team has success there’s going to be a lot of other people looking at them and trying to figure out what’s driving that success,’’ he said. “Our success is driven by our great starting rotation, our great bullpen, and our great lineup. We very understand Major League Baseball’s rules regarding sign-stealing and we abide by them, we have abided by them and we’re going to continue to abide by them. I can’t speak to allegations that other teams may have made about us, I haven’t heard any personally myself.’’
MLB issued a statement on the matter Wednesday.
“Before the Postseason began, a number of Clubs called the Commissioner’s Office about sign stealing and the inappropriate use of video equipment. The concerns expressed related to a number of Clubs, not any one specific Club. In response to these calls, the Commissioner’s Office reinforced the existing rules with all playoff Clubs and undertook proactive measures, including instituting a new prohibition on the use of certain in-stadium cameras, increasing the presence of operations and security personnel from Major League Baseball at all Postseason games and instituting a program of monitoring Club video rooms.
“With respect to both incidents regarding a Houston Astros employee, security identified an issue, addressed it and turned the matter over to the Department of Investigations. A thorough investigation concluded that an Astros employee was monitoring the field to ensure that the opposing Club was not violating any rules. All Clubs remaining in the playoffs have been notified to refrain from these types of efforts and to direct complaints about any in-stadium rules violations to MLB staff for investigation and resolution. We consider the matter closed.”
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.