WASHINGTON — If things aren't awkward enough for the Houston Astros right now following the sign-stealing scandal that has engulfed the team and Major League Baseball, players across the league are airing their thoughts publicly.
And while the Nationals have the least to gripe about, coming off a World Series win over the Astros last season, several Nats players have commented on Houston's team.
"It doesn’t put baseball in a good light," Howie Kendrick said. "The commissioner really hasn’t done a great job with trying to defuse the situation. Nobody’s going to have any remorse for you. And actually going out and putting out public service announcements and things like that, I don’t think that’s really cool. You got caught doing something, I think you should just be quiet and go about your business and let your play talk.”
Both the Nationals and Astros may have to communicate a little more with each other in Spring Training for a couple of reasons.
Washington and Houston both share the same facility in the Grapefruit League. Plus, Dusty Baker, who was the Nationals coach for two seasons, is now with the Astros.
"I think pretty much all the players except for them are on the same page with this-- it's very disappointing what happened," Patrick Corbin said. "They did cheat and I don’t think all the facts are out yet. Honestly, I think guys here are getting sick talking about them. I think teams should be talking about what we did last year and how special that season was. We won it all."
The Nationals knew during the seven-game series against the Astros that they were dealing with an opponent that wasn't playing by the rules. The Nats apparently took extra measures to combat the sign-stealing that has now cost several Major League Baseball coaches and one general manager their jobs.
While the Nats prepared for the World Series, which was won in dramatic fashion, the team reportedly heard from other organizations and clubs inside the MLB who spilled the details of how the Astros had been cheating over a three to four year period.
"It’s very disheartening, and there’s definitely no excuse for it, especially people who are doing the right thing and facing these pitchers," the newly acquired Nationals first baseman Eric Thames said. "Pitchers are so good nowadays. They’re not throwing 91 mph with sink, it’s like 100 mph with sink ... I know a lot of people are upset with the punishment and things like that. The league didn’t do what the league does. But for us, that’s not our problem. Let them deal with all that stuff. We’re here to get ready for the season and go for a repeat."
In January, the MLB announced that it had suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the 2020 season, in addition to issuing Houston a $5 million fine and taking away its first and second-round picks for the next two drafts. The Astros subsequently fired Hinch and Luhnow.
No Astros players are being punished even though most position players on the 2017 team participated in some way, according to the report.
Many of the players interviewed said they knew it was wrong and they worried about getting caught.
Investigators interviewed 68 witnesses including 23 current and former Astros players. They also reviewed tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips and photographs.
The Washington Nationals will play its first Spring Training game against the Houston Astros on Saturday, Feb. 22.