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MLB checking after report 2017 Astros illegally stole signs

Mike Fiers, who played more than two seasons in Houston, went on the record about the team’s sign-stealing system.
Mike Fiers, who played more than two seasons in Houston, went on the record about the team’s sign-stealing system. 2015 file/ Scott Halleran/Getty Images/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has expanded its investigation into the Houston Astros after The Athletic website reported the team stole signs during home games in 2017 by using a camera positioned in center field.

The report Tuesday quoted pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for the Astros that season, and three other unidentified people with the club. The Astros won the World Series that year — two sources told The Athletic that Houston used the system into the playoffs while another source said it ended before the postseason.

The website said the process was started by a struggling hitter and a coach, neither of whom was identified. The camera at Minute Maid Park was connected to a television monitor in the tunnel between the Astros’ dugout and clubhouse, The Athletic said, and team employees or players would communicate expected pitches by banging a trash can to signal offspeed pitches.


‘‘I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,’’ Fiers told the website.

The Astros said in a statement the team ‘‘has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball’’ and declined additional comment.

MLB strengthened its rules against sign stealing before the 2019 season, instituting procedures attempting to ensure teams did not use video to steal signs.

‘‘After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps,’’ MLB said in a statement.

MLB already is investigating the Astros. Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired for directing inappropriate comments at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration after the team beat the New York Yankees to win the AL pennant on Oct. 19. The team issued and then retracted a statement accusing a Sports Illustrated reporter of trying to ‘‘fabricate a story.’’ Taubman was fired by the Astros Oct. 24.


Baldelli tips Boone

Rocco Baldelli of the Minnesota Twins narrowly beat out Aaron Boone of the New York Yankees to win AL Manager of the Year.

Both received 13 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed Tuesday night, but Baldelli got more second-place votes in his first year on the job. At 38 years old, he is the youngest to win the award.

Baldelli took over a team that won 78 games in 2018 and pushed them to 101 victories and an AL Central title. He worked tightly with Minnesota’s analytics-focused front office — a shift from predecessor Paul Molitor, who won this award in 2017 — and oversaw a turnaround propelled by the team’s major league record 307 home runs.

Mike Shildt of the Cardinals edged Craig Counsell of the Brewers to win NL Manager of the Year.

Shildt earned the award in his first full season on the job. Counsell received more first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but Shildt got more second-place votes and appeared on more ballots.

Shildt, 51, teared up upon learning he'd won, saying he was already in an emotional place after his mother died last Wednesday.

Shildt replaced Mike Matheny as Cardinals manager during the 2018 season, and St. Louis has been among baseball’s best teams since. The club won 91 games and the NL Central crown this year, ending the franchise’s three-year postseason drought.

Shildt became the first manager of the year who had never played pro ball at any level.


Last week, the Cardinals gave him a contract extension through the 2022 season.

Atlanta’s Brian Snitker was third after winning the award last year. The Dodgers’ Dave Roberts finished fourth, and Nationals manager Dave Martinez was fifth.

Giants tab Kapler

Gabe Kapler was hired as manager of the San Francisco Giants, a month after being fired from the same job by the Philadelphia Phillies. Kapler replaces Bruce Bochy, who retired at the end of the season following 13 years and three championships with San Francisco. Kapler, 44, is the second big hire in a matter of days by Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who on Monday introduced general manager Scott Harris, most recently an assistant GM for the Cubs.

Kapler was fired Oct. 10 after going 161-163 over two seasons as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. With slugger Bryce Harper their blockbuster acquisition, the Phillies finished 81-81 this year for their first non-losing season since 2012.

Zaidi and Kapler are now reunited from their time with the Dodgers, where Kapler served as director of player development.

Last week, the Giants narrowed their managerial search to three finalists: Kapler, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.

Wainwright to stay

The Cardinals and Adam Wainwright agreed to a contract for next season, raising the likelihood that the pitcher finishes his career with the only major league team he has ever played for. Terms were not disclosed. The 38-year-old Wainwright was drafted by the Braves in 2000 and traded to the Cardinals three years later. He made his debut in 2005 and has been a stalwart over the past 14 seasons, going 162-95 with a 3.39 ERA and three All-Star Game appearances. He played last season on a $2 million deal, going 14-10 with a 4.19 ERA while helping the Cardinals reach the NLCS. Only two players, Jesse Haines and Bob Gibson, have played more seasons for the Cardinals. . . . The Tigers hired former Angels bench coach Josh Paul as a quality control coach, one of more than 20 hires, promotions, and staff changes. Among the most significant are that Lance Parrish will serve as a special assistant to general manager Al Avila, and Kenny Graham has been hired as director of player development.