Yankees' Skipper Aaron Boone on Astros' Owner Jim Crane's Comments: "That's Quite A Stretch"

Max Goodman

TAMPA, Fla. – The Yankees' clubhouse closed to the media at 9:15 a.m. sharp on Thursday morning. That's 15 minutes before the Astros were scheduled to address their sign-stealing scandal and subsequent investigation in a live press conference across the state in West Palm Beach.

As reporters strolled en masse toward the exit, a projector was wheeled. It ended up situated near the middle of the locker room, ready to point toward a screen as soon as it was pulled down from the ceiling .

Pitchers and catchers – as well as the Bombers' coaching staff – were penciled in for meetings over the next few hours before starting a day full of drills, batting and fielding practice as well as bullpens thrown. 

Could the club have spent that time together watching Astros' owner Jim Crane and new skipper Dusty Baker field questions about Houston's cheating scandal? After all, several members of the Yankees' 2017 roster – the team that was bounced in the playoffs by Houston – have already reported to Spring Training.

READ: Gary Sánchez and Luis Severino among the Yankees to address Houston's sign-stealing scandal

Either way, once Yankees' manager Aaron Boone took his seat for his second press conference of Spring Training, he had already heard Crane's comments.

Crane had apologized – although it didn't resonate particularly as much of an "apology" to those on social media. At one point, he said he felt that his team's operation to steal opponent's signs "didn't impact the game."

In other words, in that moment, Crane indicated that taking an illegal competitive advantage by electronically pilfering opposing team's signs had no effect on the results of the Astros' performance in 2017.

"That's quite a stretch," Boone said. "I guess we’ll never know and that’s for people to draw their own conclusion on. Clearly when we’re talking about some of the things that went on, those things have an effect on games. Literally."

Moments later, after a reporter followed up on the response, the Astros' owner backtracked. 

"I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game,” Crane said.

Boone – who played a dozen seasons in the Majors – cracked a smile when he was asked how much of a direct impact knowing what pitch is coming has on a hitter.

"If you ask every hitter if they had 100 percent certainty of what’s coming, I feel pretty good about my chances or certainly a lot better," Boone said after thinking through his reply. "Us and every team are always working to get an advantage if we can spot something within a team that allows us to have a really good idea of what’s coming. That’s a comfortable feeling for a hitter."

As for whether or not Boone believes the Astros' players as they denied using any technology to relay signs to the hitter in 2019, he's still not convinced.

"Not really," he said. It at least feels like there’s a lot of coincidental things and a lot of smoke, but can I say one way or the other what went on? Absolutely not. The question that was asked of me was am I sure or not and my answer is no.

"At this point I think it’s hard to be certain of particular things. Lot of coincidental things went on that certainly from my standpoint over the last several weeks have made me think a lot about it. I draw a lot of different conclusions but in the end, I don’t really know either."

He and Gerrit Cole, who had spent the previous two seasons with the Astros, both were ready to put this controversy in the past and focus on 2020. Cole denied knowing about the sign-stealing operation from his time in Houston.

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