ESPN goes in-depth on Blue Jays sign-stealing allegations

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Four players have confirmed to ESPN that they’ve witnessed Blue Jays hitters being relayed signs from the center-field stands at Rogers Centre.

An Outside The Lines reports details the allegations and an incident involving one of the players and Jose Bautista.  The report claims that a man in center field, situated perfectly behind the pitcher in a batter’s eyeline, was gesturing to indicate offspeed pitches for Toronto hitters.

The man caught the eyes of one team, and a player sent a message to Bautista following an at-bat in a game last season:

“We know what you’re doing,” he said. “If you do it again, I’m going to hit you in the [f——] head.”

Bautista acknowledged the confrontation, but he denied that the Jays have anything to do with sign-stealing.

“First of all, I don’t even know how you can do that,” Bautista said. “And second of all, it’s obviously something that’s not legal in the game. We do not cheat.”

But opposing teams certainly think they do.  The Yankees and Red Sox have both been throwing down multiple signs even with no one on base when they face the Jays at Rogers Centre.  ESPN even cites our report from a Red Sox game in June, though without feeling the need to give us any credit.  The Yankees’ Russell Martin said the Jays were stealing signs last month, though he believed it was baserunners responsible for the deed.

Once again this year, Blue Jays hitters are faring much better at home than on the road.  They’ve hit .261 with 71 homers in 55 games in Toronto, compared to .249 with 57 homers in 60 games elsewhere.

Here are the individual OPS splits for all of the Jays with 180 at-bats this season:

Jose Bautista: 1.155 home, 1.030 road
Yunel Escobar: .957 home, .699 road
Edwin Encarnacion: .921 home, .670 road
Adam Lind: .807 home, .755 road
Eric Thames: .794 home, .684 road
Rajai Davis: .735 home, .512 road
J.P. Arencibia: .697 home, .757 road
Travis Snider: .687 home, .561 road
Corey Patterson: .659 home, .671 road
Juan Rivera: .629 home, .702 road
Aaron Hill: .595 home, .587 road

Interestingly enough, two of the three players to actually perform better on the road were given away in trades last month.

The argument against the Jays’ stealing signs is that they aren’t actually winning at home.  They’re 28-27 at Rogers Centre this year and 30-30 on the road.  Last year, though, they went 46-35 at home, compared to 39-42 on the road.  Those 2010 Blue Jays hit .253 with 150 homers at home, compared to .243 with 107 homers on the road.

This story isn’t going away, so it’d be nice if MLB decided to take an interest at some point.  Contacted for ESPN’s story, a spokesman responded: “Major League Baseball has never received a complaint from any club about sign stealing in Toronto, and this is first [we’ve been] made aware of it.”

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Update: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous will address the sign-stealing charges at 3:45 p.m. EDT this afternoon.

Rockies place Carlos Gonzalez on 10-day disabled list with right hamstring strain

Carlos Gonzalez
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The Rockies placed Carlos Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain, per an announcement on Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 19, the day after Gonzalez sustained the injury on a phenomenal diving catch during the Rockies’ 10-2 loss to the Pirates. In corresponding moves, outfielder Mike Tauchman was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, while corner outfielders David Dahl and Noel Cuevas were recalled from the minors.

Gonzalez, 32, got off to an underwhelming start this spring. The veteran outfielder exited Wednesday’s game batting a modest .235/.264/.426 with three home runs and two stolen bases in his first 72 plate appearances of the 2018 season. Despite sustaining a plethora of minor injuries over the last few years, this looks to be his first serious setback since undergoing knee surgery back in 2014.

It’s still unclear how long he’ll be sidelined, though club manager Bud Black said Gonzalez appeared to be recovering well prior to the decision on Sunday. “I think probably the thing that put us over the top was with [Gerardo] Parra’s suspension starting today and CarGo not 100 percent,” he told reporters, adding that while Gonzalez seemed capable of pinch-hitting, he would not have been able to run the bases.

In the meantime, Cuevas figures to make his major-league debut sometime over the next week. The 26-year-old outfielder is in his ninth minor league season, and left Albuquerque with a .333/.419/.571 batting line and eight extra-base hits though his first 74 PA. Dahl, 24, could also see his first major-league assignment since 2016, when he slashed .315/.359/.500 with seven home runs and five stolen bases in 63 games with the Rockies.