Rob Manfred: MLB 'Absolutely' Will Implement New Protocols by Opening Day to Prevent Cheating

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After recent sign-stealing scandals in Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred made clear new protocols will be implemented by Opening Day to prevent cheating.

During an interview with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, Manfred said he has considered not making video rooms available to teams once games start. The only monitor available to a team could be a replay screen with an MLB security official standing next to it.

"That's the first path," he said. "It is an option. We have talked about it. We are not done on 2020 [protocols], no."

When asked if more protocols will be in place by the start of the 2020 season, Manfred replied, "Absolutely."

Questions over technology's place in baseball have been heightened by reports of sign stealing in recent years.

In 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Last fall, the Yankees accused the Astros of whistling to communicate pitches during the American League Championship Series.

In November, another set of allegations against the Astros came to light in a report from The Athletic when ex-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.

MLB launched an investigation into the allegations and confirmed they were true. As a result, Manfred suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Monday for one season through the 2020 World Series. MLB also fined the Astros $5 million but did not discipline any players, despite finding the sign-stealing scandal to be mostly player-driven.

An hour after the league announced its decision, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Luhnow.

"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 a 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."

 Luhnow added 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."

Manfred added that he's weighing if it's better to have more or less technology in baseball moving forward.

"We need to continue to evaluate where we have technology proximate to the dugout and whether there are technology changes that could be helpful in resolving this issue," he said. "On the one hand you can attack the problem by saying, 'I'm going to regulate more closely and monitor tougher.' We will go down that route at least as an interim step to make sure we know exactly what’s going on and make sure people are following the rules.

"Longer term, for example, the idea of having a technology solution that eliminates some guy putting fingers above his cup might be a better answer."

MLB has examined the possibility changing the way pitchers and catchers communicate signs using of a series of lights. The pitching rubber would have lights embedded in it visible only to the pitcher, and the catcher would have a device to trigger the appropriate light to indicate a specific pitch.

Despite whatever protocol changes come in 2020, Manfred made it be known with his discipline of the Astros that MLB has zero tolerance for cheating.

"Whenever you have an allegation that the outcome of a game was altered by a rules violation," he said, "that falls into the category where fans believe the competition has been affected, and it’s an integrity issue. The integrity of the competition."