However, a league source said Tuesday night that the investigation concluded the Astros employee was not trying to steal signs, but was acting on suspicions the Red Sox had been stealing Astros signs, and was there to try to catch them in the act. The employee was removed from the area and relocated to another part of the stadium.
“We are aware of the matter, and it will be handled internally,” Pat Courtney, MLB’s chief communications officer, said Tuesday night, following Boston’s 8-2 victory in Game 3 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
The incident was first reported late Tuesday afternoon by Metro Boston. According to the report, the Cleveland Indians spotted the same man — later identified by Yahoo Sports as Kyle McLaughlin, whose position with the Astros was unknown — in a similar spot doing similar things during the AL Division Series at Cleveland’s Progressive Field.
“It really is in Major League Baseball’s hands,” Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters Tuesday night. “I’m not concerned about it though. That was taken care of very early in the game. … It was done early in the game, caught early in the game. That didn’t have anything to do with [the outcome of] the game.”
There was no indication of any suspicious activity during Game 3 in Houston on Tuesday night, but the Red Sox were careful to change their pitch-calling signs throughout the night — something Manager Alex Cora said is fairly standard for the Red Sox.
“I’m always concerned about [sign-stealing] throughout the season,” Cora said after the game. “So we do a good job of changing sequences and paying attention to details. And we don’t get caught up in the whole paranoia thing [with] the signs. . . . If we feel there’s something going on, we change the signs.”
Asked if he thought anything untoward was going on at Fenway Park during Games 1 and 2, Cora said, “No, I don’t.”
Sign-stealing has been an accepted part of baseball culture for decades, but technological advances have blurred the line between gamesmanship and cheating. Ironically, it was the Red Sox who were fined by the league last season for using an Apple Watch in a sign-stealing scheme. Teams regularly change their signs during games, and the surge in mound visits in recent years was believed to be largely attributable to the effort to prevent sign-stealing, and led MLB to institute a limit on mound visits this season.