Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow: 'I Am Not a Cheater'

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Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow issued a statement hours after he was fired from the franchise, regarding Monday's report from commissioner Rob Manfred on the team's sign-stealing activity.

In his first public comments, Luhnow said that he accepts responsibility for the rules violations that occurred while he was the team's president and GM, but that he did not know rules were being broken.

"I am not a cheater," Luhnow said in his statement. "Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity."

The team fired both Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch following the league's unprecedented discipline over the club illegally stealing signs

"When I found out, I was very upset. We want to be known as playing by the rules," owner Jim Crane said of the sign-stealing allegations. "Neither one of those guys implemented this or pushed it through the system... but neither one of them did anything about it. That's unfortunate and the consequences are severe."

Houston's dismissal of Hinch and Luhnow came shortly after commissioner Rob Manfred handed both men one-year suspensions which run through the 2020 World Series.

"I regret being connected to these events, am disappointed in our club's actions within this timeline, and I accept the Commissioner's decision," Hinch said in his statement.  

"While the evidence consistently showed I didn't endorse or participate in the sigh stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry."

The allegations against the Astros first came to light in a November report by The Athletic when former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers accused his former team of using a centerfield camera to steal catchers' signs. The pitches were then relayed to batters by a teammate or teammates banging on a trash can in the dugout. 

"The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management," Luhnow said. "The trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn't informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it."

The bench coach referred to in Luhnow's remarks is current Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Cora has not yet been punished by MLB, but according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Cora's punishment is going to be "harsh" as well.