Two Houston Astros players expressed shame for the sign-stealing scandal that has engulfed Major League Baseball and owner Jim Crane promised greater control, saying that technologically advanced sign-stealing would “never happen again on my watch” as the team opened spring training Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The remarks came amid calls for the team to be stripped of its World Series victory in 2017 and were the first since the scandal resulted in the firing of General Manager Jeff Luhnow and team manager A.J. Hinch.

Astros star Alex Bregman directly apologized in a brief statement at the beginning of a Thursday morning news conference, which lasted less than 30 minutes. “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by our team, the organization and by me,” he said. “I have learned from this and hope to regain the trust of fans. … We as a team are totally focused on moving forward to the 2020 season.”

His teammate, José Altuve, added, “We had a great team meeting last night and the whole organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017. We especially feel remorse for our fans and for the game of baseball.” The players spoke for less than 90 seconds and declined to take questions, with Crane taking the bulk of the questions. Players later spoke to the media in a less formal setting.

Dusty Baker, the veteran manager brought in to restore honor to the franchise, pointed to the outsize role technology played in the scandal. “I must admit that when technology gets as advanced as it has become, the boundaries seem to change," he said. "The guys said what they did was wrong. Hopefully baseball can help clean up the game and control the technology so this doesn’t happen again.”

Crane, wearing an orange polo shirt emblazoned with the Astros logo, noted that he’d never been the kind of owner who hung out in the clubhouse and admitted that may have to change. “We’ll have better controls in place. Baseball will have better controls in place,” he said, without specifying what those would be.

Since news of the cheating schemes broke, some critics have called for Houston to forfeit wins or even the 2017 World Series title. Crane was adamant that the team’s victories and 2017 championship should remain in place.

“Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that,” Crane said.

He also declined to call what the team did cheating, saying only “we broke the rules.”

8:34 p.m.
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Sean Doolittle says Astros eroded integrity of the game

Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle had been among the most outspoken MLB players about the Houston scandal in the days before spring training, writing on Twitter that “the integrity of the game is at stake and players and fans deserve some answers.”

Doolittle had called on the Astros to provide “an apology, some transparency and accountability — real answers from people taking real responsibility for letting down the game of baseball.”

After Thursday’s initial response from Houston, Doolittle was less than satisfied. Asked what he wanted to hear from the Astros, Doolittle had a lengthy response.

“I think about what I was just talking about before — the implications that it had on guys’ careers and it’s cast so much into doubt beyond just what they did in 2017,” he said. “Past outcomes are being second-guessed from that season specifically, from that playoff run specifically. And now think about what it’s done moving forward. Any time a player starts to improve or has a breakout season, any time a team gets hot and goes on a run, there’s going to be those questions: What are they doing? How are they doing this? Is this tainted? Are they cheating? So that’s like … the way that it really erodes integrity of the game is tough.

“And I don’t know because part of me wonders if you’re the kind of person that’s willing to do that, are you able to step back and see how that affects the integrity of the game?” Doolittle went on. “Can you see how it erodes public trust and fan confidence in the product that we have on the field? So I don’t know. That’s the kind of stuff that I’ll be looking for when I see what they had to say. But they had how many months to put something together?”

MLB issued its report on the sign-stealing scheme in mid-January.

7:26 p.m.
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Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Boone believe Astros’ cheating impacted games

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who surrendered a series-clinching, walk-off home run to José Altuve in the 2019 American League Championship Series, provided his first public reaction to the Astros scandal Thursday morning, calling Altuve’s actions “a little suspicious.”

After Altuve pounded his slider over the left field fence at Minute Maid Park, Chapman smiled as he walked off the mound. As Altuve crossed the plate, he told teammates not to rip off his jersey and clutched the buttons with his hands, video of which was widely circulated amid speculation Astros hitters had used buzzers affixed to their bodies to alert them to what pitch may be coming.

“Yeah, I’ve seen that video,” Chapman told reporters through an interpreter at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa. “I think a lot of people have seen that video. It’s a popular video right now. And yeah, if you look at his actions, they look a little suspicious. But at the end of the day, I just don’t know” if Altuve knew what he was throwing.

Chapman, who spoke before the Astros’ news conference, said he believed the Astros’ cheating cost the Yankees a World Series in 2017, when the Astros beat the Yankees in seven games in the American League Championship Series, winning every game at home.

“I believe so,” Chapman said. “It was very close, and everything, all the details that come out, I think it was the extra edge that allowed them to move on.”

After Astros owner Jim Crane said during his news conference that Houston’s sign stealing did not “impact the game,” Chapman spoke to reporters again and said he disagreed.

“When you know the signs, and you know what’s coming especially at this level of baseball — we have some of the most talented baseball players in the world,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “As hitters, if they have an edge, an advantage in knowing what’s coming, it’s just going to make them stronger. Was that the sole reason they won the World Series? I don’t know. But what I can say is, when you have an advantage like that, it’s definitely going to make you a stronger team.”

Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun reiterated Chapman’s point. “Let us know what pitches are coming and let’s just see how much it ‘doesn’t impact the game,’ ” Calhoun wrote on Twitter.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone also refuted Crane’s belief that the Astros’ sign-stealing operation did not affect outcomes, particularly the 2017 ALCS.

“That’s quite a stretch, I think,” Boone said. “Clearly, on what level did it impact things, I guess we’ll never know, and that’s for people to draw their own conclusions on. But clearly when we’re talking about some of the things that went on, those things have an effect on games, clearly.”

Journeyman left-hander Brett Anderson, who competed against the Astros with the Oakland A’s in the American League West the past two seasons, also expressed doubt on Twitter about Crane’s assertion.

Above a tweet of Crane’s quote, Anderson, now with the Milwaukee Brewers, posted a video of Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman” character Ron Burgundy saying, “I don’t believe you.”

Asked about Houston’s scheme, Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin said, “It’s frustrating to see who they hurt.” He said he watched videos of the trash can banging and felt bad for the pitchers who were affected.

7:25 p.m.
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Anger around baseball at Houston’s response

The Astros’ media interactions on Thursday prompted anger from many competitors. Oakland starting pitcher Sean Manaea, who has pitched in Houston’s division for his entire four-year career, told the San Francisco Chronicle he found the Astros’ attempts at an apology lacking.

“I saw a couple of interviews, and they all said pretty much the same thing — they skated by everything. They swept everything under the rug,” Manaea said. “They didn’t own up to anything, and they’re trying to move on which is like — what are you guys trying to move on from? You haven’t even said what it is you did."

It could be argued that no team suffered more from the Astros’ cheating than the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom the Astros beat in seven games in the 2017 World Series. Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts had a muted reaction to Houston’s Thursday news conference, telling reporters simply that he believed in karma. Roberts said he watched Dodgers pitchers throwing bullpen sessions while the Astros’ news conference unfolded.

“Our story is moving forward, and that will be our stance for 2020,” Roberts said.

Many current and former Astros have expressed regret for standing idle as the team constructed its sign-stealing system. Former major league reliever C.J. Nitkowski, now a Texas Rangers television broadcaster, took aim at those players.

“And for the ‘I wish I would have said something,’ crowd, spare us,” Nitkowski wrote on Twitter. “You turning that ring in or giving back that $438,000 [World Series] share?”

6:04 p.m.
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New Astros GM says executives linked to scandal are still with team

James Click, who was hired in early February to be the Astros’ general manager, was asked whether executives Tom Koch-Weser and Derek Vigoa, who were linked to the sign-stealing scandal, would keep their jobs.

“Any new GM coming in would want to take a full view of the baseball operations staff ... and figure out how we take the awesome people that we have here and maximize them,” he said.

Click confirmed that both executives were still with the team, but he would not say whether they were with the team in Florida or would remain with the team moving forward.

“It’s a good question. I’ve just gotten here. It’s my first week," he said. "I want to get to know people. I want to get to know the entire staff and figure out what we can do to put this organization in the best position going forward.”

5:40 p.m.
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Josh Reddick: ‘It is what it is’

Houston outfielder Josh Reddick said the team will not reach out to opposing pitchers whose legacies might have been damaged by losses against the Astros.

“I don’t think we feel the need to reach out to those guys, or anybody, for that matter. Like I said, it is what it is,” Reddick said. “It’s just something we got to ask for forgiveness again and keep saying how bad we feel, because this team feels very sorry, very bad for what has happened and that we didn’t take more of a role in preventing it.”

Washington Nationals reliever Will Harris, a former member of the Astros, also spoke with reporters Thursday afternoon, saying he wished he made better choices and better decisions when he played for the team. He said he wouldn’t sidestep responsibility even though he is a relief pitcher.

“I’m glad today happened,” he said, regarding Houston’s apologies and his own small news conference.

4:19 p.m.
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Dusty Baker is ready to move on

Manager Dusty Baker emphasized that he hopes the Astros addressing this scandal Thursday means they can now move forward with the 2020 season. Baker said his players are tired of answering questions and want to put this behind them.

“I think they’ve learned their lesson,” he said.

4:16 p.m.
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Astros strongly deny using buzzers to signal pitches

The Astros organization — from owner Jim Crane to ace Justin Verlander to role players in 2017 — issued emphatic denials Thursday that the team used buzzers to tell hitters which pitches were coming.

José Altuve, the second baseman who went viral for appearing to not want his shirt ripped off after a walk-off home run in the 2019 ALCS, maintained MLB’s report cleared him of wrongdoing. He did not issue a full denial that he wore one. Verlander did, though.

“I see these guys before the game, after the game, dressing and undressing, and I never saw anything like that,” he said.

3:57 p.m.
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Astros answer questions in the clubhouse: ‘We are all taking responsibility’

Alex Bregman and José Altuve, among other Astros, finally fielded questions when the clubhouse opened to the media. They declined to discuss specifics of the sign-stealing scheme and both, while saying they learned from it, did not answer what they took away from the experience.

“But I am sorry,” Bregman said.

Bregman, pressed on whether former player Carlos Beltrán and former bench coach Alex Cora led the scheme and whether other players felt powerless, refuted that idea.

“We are a team,” Bregman said. “We are all taking responsibility.”

Pitcher Justin Verlander repeated several times he wished he did more to stop the Astros’ sign-stealing when he joined the team in 2017.

"Once I spent some time and understood what was happening, I wish I had said more,” Verlander said. “I can’t go back and reverse my decision. I wish I had said more, and I didn’t.”

He also dismissed his past calls for players suspended for PED use, such as Dee Gordon, to be banned from baseball.

“That was an individual,” he said. “This is a team.”

Lance McCullers, an Astros pitcher, said he apologized to the city of Houston and to baseball as a whole. He said he hadn’t spoken to any other players in the sport and, when given the chance to, asked for the next question.

Shortstop Carlos Correa pushed back on the idea that sign-stealing tainted the 2017 World Series title. He said the playoff atmosphere was too loud for trash-can banging to be effective.

“People have their own opinions,” he said when pressed if he felt the title was cheapened.

3:04 p.m.
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Astros owner, manager call for ‘better controls’ to clean up the game

Astros owner Jim Crane promised that the way in which he’ll keep this from recurring is that “we’ll have better controls in place. Baseball will have better controls in place.” He admitted that he doesn’t go into the locker room very often, and he said that may change.

Manager Dusty Baker said he doesn’t know all the facts, because he just got MLB’s report “the other day,” but he said it’s clear the game needs progress from this.

“I must admit that when technology gets as advanced as it has become, the boundaries seem to change. The guys said what they did was wrong. Hopefully baseball can help clean up the game and control the technology so this doesn’t happen again.”

2:58 p.m.
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Astros owner stands by decision not to punish players

Houston owner Jim Crane disagreed that he has let players off the hook by using the commissioner’s report to discipline team leadership and not the players.

“I think I’ve done just about everything I can,” Crane said. “When the commissioner suspended the people [general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch], I fired them. We’re not going to do anything to players.”

Crane said he believes that, as the owner, he is a part of the solution. “I should not be held accountable,” he said, adding, “Had I known about it, I certainly would have done something about it.”

2:54 p.m.
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Astros had ‘emotional’ team meeting on Wednesday

Wednesday night was the first time the Astros met to discuss the sign-stealing scandal as a team. Owner Jim Crane described the meeting, which lasted about an hour, as “emotional.” Manager Dusty Baker hung back to let his new players lead the meeting.

“They were very remorseful, very sorry, and let’s play some baseball,” Crane said.

Crane said: “It was the first time we as a group were all together, and we just wanted to hear what the guys had to say. ... Some of them were very emotional.”

2:45 p.m.
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Astros owner shrugs off question about whether sign-stealing taints World Series title

Owner Jim Crane said: “We’re staying focused on the Astros. It’s not my job to focus on those other teams.”

About complaints from other teams who lost to the Astros during the time they were stealing signs, including the New York Yankees, Crane said: “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.” Crane added that he feels he doesn’t need to reach out to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Crane also declined to call it cheating, saying only “we broke the rules.” Crane pointed out that this is a team that three times won 100 games in a season, seeming to indicate that it didn’t need to cheat.

“It’s a little unclear from the report” when the rule-breaking stopped, he said. “There’s different opinions on that. In ’18 it was finished, and there was nothing in ’19."

MLB indicted the Astros’ culture in its sign-stealing report, but Crane said he doesn’t “100 percent agree” with the assessment. He believes there is work to do, but he thought firing general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch was a sizable step forward.

“We have all the controls in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again on my watch,” he said.

2:45 p.m.
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Astros praise Carlos Beltrán

Owner Jim Crane and Manager Dusty Baker praised the character of former Astros player Carlos Beltrán, who was fired from his job as New York Mets manager for his role in the sign-stealing scandal. They believe he should be able to rejoin baseball in some capacity in the future.

“We’re all capable of wrongdoing,” Baker said of Beltrán, adding that he hopes to “put those things behind us.”

Beltrán was the only Astros player named in the commissioner’s report.

2:42 p.m.
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Dusty Baker asks for forgiveness for Astros

Baker, who is replacing the ousted AJ Hinch as manager, said, “At that meeting last night, the players showed tremendous remorse, sorrow and embarrassment for their families, organization, city of Houston and baseball. I want to ask for the baseball world to forgive them for the mistakes they made.”