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Manfred hints Red Sox sign-stealing discipline is imminent

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At the owners meetings yesterday Rob Manfred talked about the ongoing drama surrounding baseball’s sign-stealing scandal. Specifically, he talked about the imminent punishment for the Boston Red Sox and what Major League Baseball intends to do with respect to sign-stealing in the future.

First, with the Red Sox: Manfred said that he expects to level punishment “before camps open,” which is next week. So brace yourself for a Jeff Passan tweet followed by a press release that someone gave Jeff Passan before it was sent out sometime soon.

As for that punishment, Manfred said that, as was the case with Houston, Red Sox players have been given immunity in exchange for information. It’s simply a practical thing, Manfred correctly noted. The league office would not get cooperation from players if they were at risk of punishment. Manfred made the analogy to law enforcement cutting deals with smaller crooks in order to get the bigger ones. In this instance, per his memo to all 30 teams a couple of years ago, and per the reality that managers and general managers have the power to stop such schemes in ways that individual players don’t, it’s the GM and manager who are going to get popped.

Not that such a state of affairs will exist going forward. There have been increasing noises that, in the future, players will be subject to punishment if technology-aided sign-stealing occurs again. Again, it makes sense: fair punishment in any context involves an element of would-be perpetrators knowing ahead of time what it prohibited and what consequences exist for transgressions. In light of that, I would be shocked if Manfred’s statements in the wake of the Red Sox punishment do not include at least some signal that these retrospective cases led to player immunity for practical reasons, players will be in the crosshairs in future cases.

Finally, Manfred spoke about how to better prevent such schemes going forward. Refreshingly, he didn’t make reference to convoluted means of pitchers and catchers communicating via wristwatches or buzzers or other means of technological signaling. Rather, he correctly noted that the issue with the Astros and the Red Sox was access to real time video and talked about limiting players’ access to such things, Manfred:

“I think you should assume that before the season starts, we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment . . . I think we have too much video available in real time right now.”

This suggests that new rules may come out that would limit who is allowed in the video room used for instant replay purposes.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.