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Sean Doolittle speaks out on latest report of Astros sign-stealing: ‘We need answers’

Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, seen here during the 2019 World Series, expressed frustration after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Astros had developed an application to steal signs from opposing catchers in 2016. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

A damning new report from the Wall Street Journal surfaced Friday that the cheating perpetrated by the Houston Astros predates the team’s 2017 World Series championship season.

In September 2016, an Astros intern presented an application known as “Codebreaker” to Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow that contained an algorithm used to steal signs from opposing catchers the next two seasons, according to the report. The report states Luhnow, who has publicly denied any knowledge of the sign-stealing in a scandal that led to his year-long suspension and ultimately his firing, “was aware of the existence and capabilities” and that the application “laid the groundwork for the team’s electronic sign-stealing schemes.”

What is sign stealing? Making sense of Major League Baseball’s latest scandal.

Major League Baseball’s report released last month stated that the Astros’ sign-stealing, which involved the use of electronics and the banging of trash cans to signal off-speed pitches, was player-driven.

Among players upset with the latest development is Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, who faced the Astros three times in the 2019 World Series.

“This is really frustrating,” Doolittle tweeted Friday night. “A month after MLB’s report and all we have now is more evidence and more questions. So it wasn’t entirely player-driven? This came from up top? The integrity of the game is at stake and players and fans deserve some answers.

“Players around the league are pissed,” Doolittle continued. “But we’re looking forward to hearing more from parties involved in spring training. We want an apology, some transparency and accountability — real answers from people taking real responsibility for letting down the game of baseball.”

Former Astros ace becomes first player to apologize for team’s sign-stealing scandal

So far, no current Astros player has apologized for the sign-stealing scandal. Houston third baseman Alex Bregman and second baseman José Altuve spoke at Astros FanFest last month but did their best to avoid discussing the scandal.

“The commissioner came out with a report. MLB did their report,” Bregman said. “The Astros did what they did, they made their decision on what they’re going to do, and I have no other thoughts on it.”

“I don’t know how, but you’ve got to move forward,” Altuve said. “We’ve got to stay together as a team. It hasn’t changed my opinion about my teammates. They’re the best teammates I’ve ever had.

“The time to comment about that will come,” Altuve added.

Astros owner Jim Crane said players will apologize at spring training and will “come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we’ll move forward.” Astros pitchers and catchers report to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday, while the rest of the squad reports Feb. 17. The team begins exhibition play Feb. 22 against the Nationals, who share the same spring training complex.

Doolittle’s frustration also stems from the fact that the latest report further dilutes the trust that baseball fans have with the product they watch on a nightly basis.

“It feels like there’s still no closure and everything has been thrown into question — past outcomes are being second guessed and even future games will be cast in doubt,” Doolittle tweeted. “There can be no redemption arc after an institutionalized scandal like this until there’s some accountability.

“We recognize how important solidarity among players is,” Doolittle continued. “It’s our strongest asset. And we have already begun working on proposals to make sure a cheating scandal like this could never happen again. But we need answers so we can move on as a group, and as a sport.”

Read more:

Did sign stealing taint Astros World Series title? Their former manager says it’s a ‘fair question.’

Hank Aaron thinks sign-stealing Astros players should be banned from baseball

An Astros fan listened to thousands of the team’s 2017 at-bats. Sign-stealing was everywhere.

Houston Astros hire Dusty Baker as manager in wake of sign-stealing scandal