Apologetic Astros: Altuve, Bregman sorry for sign-stealing saga

Two of the Houston Astros’ top hitters, third baseman Alex Bregman and second baseman Jose Altuve, issued apologies for their role in a sign-stealing plot that led to the dismissal of manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

Alex Bregman
Alex Bregman. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

“I have some brief remarks I’d like to share with y’all. I’m really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me,” Bregman said Thursday, with his hands connected at the fingertips reading from a prepared statement. “I’ve learned from this and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans. I would also like to thank the Astros’ fans for all of their support. We as a team are totally focused on moving forward to the 2020 season.”

Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP, and Bregman spoke for a combined one minute, 24 seconds and did not directly address their role in the scandal.

“We had a great team meeting last night. And I want to say the whole Astros organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017,” Altuve said. “We especially feel remorse for the impact on our fans and the game of baseball. Our team is determined to move forward to play with intensity and bring back a championship to Houston in 2020.”

Astros owner Jim Crane and manager Dusty Baker, hired to replace Hinch, said he blames the team’s leadership for failing its players. Major League Baseball said in its investigation the scheme was player-driven.

“These are a great group of guys who did not receive proper guidance from their leaders,” Crane said Thursday.

Several players on opposing teams have come forward in recent days to share their disdain for the cheating scandal that also brought managerial changes for the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman said the team feels “cheated” after two playoff series losses to the Astros.

Apologies didn’t go very far for division rival pitcher Sean Manaea of the Oakland Athletics, who said the Astros still haven’t “owned up to anything.”

“They’re just cheaters,” he said, calling the team’s actions “disgraceful.”

Alex Cora, fired as manager of the Red Sox last month, was on the Astros’ coaching staff and was identified as one of the ringleaders of the sign-stealing plan in Houston. Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros, was hired to be the new manager for the Mets but was fired before spring training even began.

Astros pitcher Lance McCullers echoed Crane’s assessment that the cheating strategies didn’t “impact the game.” Crane later confused the comment for media when he claimed he didn’t say there was no impact on the game.

“Everyone can draw their own conclusion at the end of the day,” McCullers said. “There were a lot of things that I think guys aren’t going to get into, as far as that (2017) season and that postseason. But I can stand here and firmly believe that we earned that championship.”

But McCullers also said the Astros are remorseful for breaking the rules.

“We’re here today to acknowledge this and apologize to baseball as a whole,” he said.

New Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole — who spent the past two seasons with the Astros and jumped ship to sign a $324 million deal in free agency — said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the use of any buzzer or sign-stealing system the team used to win in Houston.

“I had no idea of any of it going on,” Cole said. “I didn’t see any of it. I don’t believe I have much to apologize for.”

Before Astros players faced the media, Altuve and Bregman read their short statements. Crane and Baker, who was hired Jan. 29, then participated in Thursday’s press conference. Baker had no connection to the cheating plot uncovered in Houston.

“I just want to ask for the baseball world to forgive them for the mistakes that they’ve made. We’re looking forward to an excellent season this year,” Baker said.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)