For the first time publicly since MLB released the results of its investigation into the Astros' sign-stealing operation, Oakland A's pitcher Mike Fiers, who was the initial player to go on the record with The Athletic detailing the scheme, addressed the situation.
"I said what I said, but we’re moving forward. I don’t want to be a distraction to this team," Fiers said at a local media event. "That’s my main goal. I want everyone to focus on the season at hand and be ready for Spring Training and eventually the season.”
He didn't specifically address the Astros cheating scandal, potentially, as the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser notes, at the request of MLB.
Fiers was a member of the Astros in 2017, when they first developed an illicit sign-stealing operation that involved using a video camera in centerfield to zoom in on the opposing catcher to read and decipher the signs he was giving to the pitcher in real time. To relay the incoming pitch to batters, a member of the Astros in the dugout would bang on a metal trash can. One or two bangs would indicate an off-speed pitch was coming; no sound meant fastball.
The 2017 Astros won the World Series, though Fiers was left off the postseason roster after struggling late in the regular season.
Manfred suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow through the 2020 World Series after investigating the allegations that Fiers made public. In response to the punishment from MLB, Houston owner Jim Crane fired both Hinch and Luhnow. The Red Sox and Mets later parted ways with their managers, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán, respectively, after both men were named in MLB's report as the key architects of the scheme as members of the Astros organization. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach in 2017, while Beltrán was in his final season as a player.
Athletics GM David Forst also addressed the matter Friday, saying, “Frankly I think what Mike did was brave. I think when all is said and done he should be lauded for what he did. I think the majority of players in the game will look back on what he did and appreciate it.”
A number of other players have also come out recently with their comments on the matter.
"It's just what the state of baseball was at that point in time," White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel, an All-Star with the Astros in 2017, told reporters per The Chicago Sun-Times' Madeline Kenney. "Was it against the rules? Yes, it was. And I personally am sorry for what's come about the whole situation."
Astros stars Alex Bregman and José Altuve addressed the scandal at the club's FanFest last weekend.
Bregman was brief with reporters when asked about the incident.
"The commissioner came out with a report, MLB did their report, and the Astros did what they did, meaning they made their decision on what they're going to do," Bregman said. "I have no other thoughts on it."
Altuve declined to comment on the scandal and shot down rumors that Houston players cheated with wearable devices.
"I wasn't upset to be honest, even though we all know it wasn't true," Altuve said. "We all know that some people made that up. The best thing that happened to me was that MLB investigated that and they didn't find something."
Altuve previously denied wearing a buzzer when his agent, Scott Boras, released a statement to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
Fiers is currently entering his second full season with the Athletics. He left the Astros after the 2017 season and joined the Detroit Tigers. He was traded mid-season in 2018 to Oakland.