Stay up to date with news from around Major League Baseball’s spring training camps as players react to the tumultuous offseason’s sign-stealing scandal, get back on the field and jostle for positions on opening day rosters.
Aaron Boone not sure Astros didn’t cheat last year
In Yankee-land, the prevailing thought from fans is that they were cheated the most by the Houston Astros sign-stealing scheme. We’ve heard players say it and now manager Aaron Boone is saying point blank that he doesn’t know whether the Astros cheated last year in their ALCS victory over the Yankees.
Jose Altuve’s walk-off homer became fodder for offseason conspiracy theories when he wouldn’t let his teammates rip off his jersey, which added to the rumor that Astros hitters wore buzzers last season to signal what pitch was coming.
Boone’s response? “No. That’s certainly one of those great unknowns.” Here’s more from his Wednesday presser:
Aaron Boone on if he’s convinced the Astros weren’t wearing devices during last year’s ALCS:
“No. That’s certainly one of those great unknowns…I don’t really dwell on things I am unable to control…I look at it now as it’s time to move on and look forward” pic.twitter.com/WaLjP330IT
— Yankees Videos (@snyyankees) February 12, 2020 Gary Sanchez responds to Astros cheating with nudity pledge
New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez found the most creative way yet to respond to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Sanchez spoke to the media on Wednesday and threw some shade at Jose Altuve and the now-infamous video of him clutching his jersey as he ran to home base after a walk-off home run in 2017’s American League Championship Series.
“If I hit a homer and get my team to the World Series, they can rip off my pants,” Sanchez told The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. “They can rip everything off.”
There was speculation that Altuve didn’t want his jersey ripped off because that would reveal a device that gave him an electric shock to alert him to what pitch was coming. Though that was never proven by MLB, it doesn’t seem like Sanchez is convinced. He knows what he would want in that situation, and that is for his teammates to rip every single shred of clothing from his body in celebration.
Jim Crane to discuss sign-stealing scandal with players
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane wants to talk strategy with his team before the season starts. Crane will meet with Astros players Wednesday to discuss how the team should approach questions about the sign-stealing scandal in 2020, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The timing of Crane’s meeting is important, as the Astros will open the clubhouse up to the media Thursday. Players will have to answer questions about the scandal for the first time since the team’s FanFest. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were among the players to speak at FanFest, but they avoided giving in-depth answers to questions about the scandal.
A few days after FanFest, Crane said Astros players will apologize for the sign-stealing scandal during spring training. Crane appears to be following up on that promise with Wednesday’s meeting. Whether the Astros’ players are receptive to that message will be seen Thursday.
Cole Hamels sidelined due to shoulder discomfort
The regular season hasn’t even started and the Atlanta Braves are already dealing with a troublesome injury. Cole Hamels is experiencing left shoulder discomfort and will be shut down for a few weeks, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
The 36-year-old Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in the offseason. He put up a 3.81 ERA over 141 2/3 innings with the Chicago Cubs in 2019.
The Braves will re-evaluate Hamels’ injury in three weeks. Even if Hamels is ready to go at that point, he won’t have enough time to make the team’s opening day roster, according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Given the severity of shoulder issues, the Braves may want to take a cautious approach with Hamels.
Pirates replace Starling Marte with Jarrod Dyson
The Pittsburgh Pirates may have found their replacement for Starling Marte. The team agreed to a deal with Jarrod Dyson on Wednesday, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.
Dyson, 35, shouldn’t be expected to replace Marte’s production. Over 10 seasons in the majors, Dyson has a .247/.319/.338 slash line. He’s more known for his speed and defense.
While Dyson has mostly been used as a part-time guy over his career, he could be pushed into a starting role in Pittsburgh.
Feb. 11: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch until at least mid-May
Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani won’t be a two-way star to begin the season. Ohtani, 25, will be limited to designated hitter duties throughout April as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery and a knee procedure, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.
The Angels don’t envision Ohtani getting back on the mound until mid-May. It’s unclear if that’s when the team expects Ohtani to pitch in the majors again, or if that’s when he’ll begin building up his stamina.
Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018. He spent all of last season as the team’s primary DH, hitting .286/.343/.505 over 425 plate appearances. Ohtani’s season ended a few weeks early, as he needed knee surgery to repair a bipartite patella.
When Ohtani joined the Angels prior to the 2018 season, he was considered to have higher upside as a pitcher. In 10 starts, Ohtani posted a 3.31 ERA and struck out 63 batters over 51 2/3 innings.
Dellin Betances says he’ll be ready by opening day
New York Mets reliever Dellin Betances offered up some promising news Tuesday. The 31-year-old righty said he expects to be ready to go opening day after battling various injuries in 2019, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Betances was limited to one game last season due to shoulder and lat injuries. After striking out the only two hitters he faced, Betances partially tore his Achilles tendon while celebrating his return. He became a free agent a few weeks later and signed with the Mets in December.
A healthy Betances would provide a significant boost to the team’s bullpen. Over 381 2/3 career innings, Betances has a 2.36 ERA. He’s expected to open the season as a setup man, but could become the Mets’ closer if Edwin Diaz struggles again.
More from Yahoo Sports: