“I’m remorseful for everything that happened in 2017, for everything that we did as a group, and for the players that were affected directly by us doing this,” he told reporters. “That’s why I feel more regret, and that’s why I’m remorseful.”
Marwin Gonzalez’s opening statement to the media:— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) February 11, 2020
“I’m remorseful for everything that happened in 2017, for everything that we did as a group, and for the players that were affected directly by us doing this ... That’s why I feel more regret and that’s why I’m remorseful.” pic.twitter.com/G35XwK2xkB
Gonzalez was the first former Astros position player to address the scheme, and he said it’s impossible to know whether the Astros would have won their first championship in franchise history without it. Frustration has swirled throughout the sport since former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed the sign-stealing operation to the Athletic in November. The scheme was reportedly nicknamed “Codebreaker,” and it relied on illegal videotaping of signs from the catcher to the pitcher. The fallout led to three managers and a general manager losing their jobs, as well as an investigation into similar allegations against the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series in 2018.
Since the scandal broke, current Astros have said almost nothing. That’s why former players such as Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel, a pitcher now with the Chicago White Sox, have been among the few Astros-adjacent voices to address the issue. Keuchel personally apologized to former White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was one of the first in baseball to speculate the Astros were cheating.
“First and foremost I think apologies should be in order for, if not everybody on the team, then himself,” Keuchel told reporters in late January. “It was never intended to be what it is made to be right now.”
Still, the revelations sparked outrage around baseball. Some players — Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger — lambasted the Astros. Softer-spoken ones criticized the effect on those living on the margins in the league. One of them, pitcher Mike Bolsinger, sued the Astros for cheating in the outing that became the “death knell” of his career.
Gonzalez himself illustrates how the sign-stealing could benefit a player. Teammates telegraphed what the pitcher would throw by banging trash cans on 147 of the 776 pitches he saw that season (18.9 percent), higher than the overall team total (13.8), according to data charted by an Astros fan. He posted career-high offensive numbers that year, batting .303 with 23 home runs and a .907 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. He hasn’t neared those figures since.
Current Astros, even when asked for comment, have demurred. Outfielder Josh Reddick, the first Astros player available, told reporters, “It stinks for everybody involved,” and that, “when everyone feels the time is right, it will get taken care of.”
Two of the team’s star players, Alex Bregman and José Altuve, spoke at the team’s winter fan festival in Houston and deflected any questions regarding the incident. Altuve declined to address the situation, and Bregman repeated strains of his first statement, “The commissioner made his report, made his decision and the Astros made their decision and I have no further comment on it.”
The backlash to this performance led Astros owner Jim Crane to promise the team would hold a news conference at spring training and “apologize for what happened, ask for forgiveness and move forward.”
The Astros’ former manager A.J. Hinch, fired in the fallout, spoke on MLB Network and apologized for his role in the scandal. He held himself accountable for failing to stop the scheme.
More players from around the league are expected to comment on the scandal soon. Many pitchers and catchers will report Tuesday or Wednesday and most position players will by the weekend.
“Players around the league are [ticked],” Washington Nationals closer Sean Doolittle tweeted. “But we’re looking forward to hearing more from parties involved in spring training.”