Astros players issued their first public apology after being involved in a cheating scandal that rocked baseball in the offseason.
“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team by the organization and by me,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said in a press conference at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. “I have 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.”
Jose Altuve followed up with a similar apology and said the team had a meeting Wednesday to talk about how they should move forward.
“I want to say that the whole Astros organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017,” said Altuve in a 38-second statement. “We especially feel remorse for the impact on the fans and the game of baseball, and our team is determined to move forward, to play with intensity and to bring back a championship to Houston in 2020.”
Major League Baseball found the Astros to have used a live camera in center field and dugout monitors to steal signs in real time and relay those signs to the batter during the team’s 2017 World Series season. The investigation also found the Astros used the system for at least part of the 2018 season.
“At that meeting last night, the players showed tremendous remorse, sorrow and embarrassment for their families, organization, city of Houston and baseball,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I want to ask for the baseball world to forgive them for the mistakes they made.”
Astros owner Jim Crane, who fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow when baseball released its report on the Astros’ cheating scandal, also apologized.
“I want to say again how sorry our team is for what happened,” Crane said. “I want to repeat this will never happen again on my watch.”
Crane said “there was nothing in (2019)” involving illegal sign-stealing and also rebutted the belief that some Astros players wore some sort of buzzing device that alerted them to the upcoming pitch.
“I truly believe there were no buzzers ever,” Crane said.
Hinch issued a similar statement Wednesday.
“To be clear, I have never seen any such device used in baseball,” Hinch’s statement read. “I am not aware of any such device existing or being utilized with the Astros, the players, or any other team.”
When asked if he’d call what the Astros did “cheating,” Crane didn’t use the word.
“We broke the rules,” Crane said. “You can phrase that any way you want.”
He also said he hasn’t reached out to the Dodgers, who the Astros beat in the 2017 World Series, and doesn’t feel it’s necessary.
“Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”
Thursday was the first apology issued by any current Astros players who were on the 2017 team. Bregman and Altuve both fielded questions about the scandal at the team’s FanFest back in January, but both were criticized for deflecting those questions.
Crane said both players “were not prepared” and “caught off guard” when they address reporters at FanFest.
After the press conference, the Astros opened the clubhouse to reporters where more apologies followed.
“There’s no excuse,” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. “We were wrong for everything we did in 2017. It’s not what we stand for as an organization. We feel really sorry because we know we affected careers, we affected the game in some way, and looking back at it, it was just bad.”
Correa also strongly refuted rumors of Astros wearing buzzers under their jerseys.
“That’s a lie. Nobody wore buzzers. Nobody wore devices,” Correa said. “That story should be killed already. We know for sure, for a fact, 100 percent as a team.”
Correa stood up for Carlos Beltran, who was fired as manager of the Mets before he could even manage a game because of his role on the 2017 Astros. In the MLB report, Beltran was pointed at as someone who led the sign-stealing. Correa refuted any report that Beltran intimidated the younger players to illegally steal signs.
“He was the nicest guy that we could ever have,” Correa said. “He was the best teammate we’ve ever had. Beltran was obviously a leader of the clubhouse but we all had a say in everything that we were doing in there. Whatever he said and whatever we were doing, we had the chance to stop it as a team. Everybody. Everybody had the chance to say something and we didn’t. So, whoever the anonymous source is that’s saying we felt intimidated or we were too young to say something: That is just straight up (B.S.).”
George Springer, who was the 2017 World Series MVP, also apologized in the clubhouse.
“I feel horrible for our sport, our game, our fans, our city, our organization, the way the our team is being viewed,” Springer said.