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Astros General Manager won’t commit to retracting statement regarding Sports Illustrated report

Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow during a news conference Wednesday in which he discussed the firing of team executive Brandon Taubman. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

As the firestorm over the ugly behavior of a now-fired Houston Astros executive and the team’s botched response reached its fifth day of consuming the World Series, Houston owner Jim Crane offered his first spoken comments, General Manager Jeff Luhnow declined to promise a Sports Illustrated reporter that the team would retract a debunked statement smearing her work and Major League Baseball said its own investigation will continue until after the conclusion of the series.

On Thursday evening at Nationals Park, a little more than an hour before Game 3, Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein met with Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow in the visiting dugout. Luhnow reached out to Apstein earlier Friday to set up the conversation.

During the meeting, which lasted about 10 minutes, Apstein requested the Astros issue a retraction for the original statement they put out Monday night that suggested she had fabricated her story about the events in the Houston clubhouse after the team clinched the American League Championship Series. Luhnow declined to commit to issuing one.

Brandon Taubman’s behavior was intolerable. The Astros’ response is reprehensible.

Before Luhnow’s meeting with Apstein, Crane skirted questions and attempted to move past the World Series-marring controversy.

“We made our statement. We got it wrong from the start,” Crane told a handful of reporters. “Jeff had reached out to the reporters and apologized. We made our statement. Other than that, we’re not going revisit at this point. We’ll play baseball.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB is still looking into the incident and its aftermath, and that the league needs more time to conclude its investigation. League-issued discipline for the Astros, current team officials and Brandon Taubman remains in play.

“We’re going to continue to review the situation and have conversations,” Manfred told reporters. “It’s one thing to come and investigate, in 24 hours, a specific incident. This will take a little more time.”

Manfred said MLB wants to examine “a variety of issues” regarding the Astros, including “aspects of this that go beyond the incident.”

The incident occurred in the Astros’ clubhouse after the team’s win over the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS. As Apstein stood with two other female reporters, one of whom was wearing a purple domestic violence awareness bracelet, Taubman chanted at them: “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f------ glad we got Osuna!” It was a reference to Astros closer Roberto Osuna, who was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018 after being suspended 75 games for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy.

Immediately after Apstein’s report was published, the Astros issued a statement that called the story “completely irresponsible” and accused Apstein of trying to “fabricate” a story. Several other reporters corroborated her version of events, and Taubman was fired Thursday.

At a news conference Thursday, Luhnow said the Astros should not have issued the original statement but would not say whether any Astros employees would be disciplined for accusing Apstein of fabricating her story.


A previous version of this story misspelled Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow’s last name.

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