CLEVELAND — Troubled of what may have happened under his watch, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the team was unaware of inappropriate behavior toward women by former pitching coach Mickey Callaway while he was with the club.
Antonetti said he became “distraught” and “disturbed” in learning of the accusations against Callaway that were reported on Monday night by The Athletic.
“When I read the article, that was the first time I became aware of the alleged behaviors,” Antonetti said Thursday on a Zoom call. “And had we known about the behaviors that were described in the article at the time, we would have acted on them. But we didn’t.”
Antonetti said the Indians are cooperating with Major League Baseball’s investigation into the allegations against Callaway, who was suspended as pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
Five women who spoke to The Athletic on condition of anonymity said Callaway, who was with Cleveland from 2010-17 and served as the pitching coach for his last five seasons, sent uninvited and sometimes unanswered messages to them via email, text or social media.
He asked one to send nude photos in return, according to the report.
Callaway, who managed the New York Mets for two seasons after he left the Indians, has said any relationships were consensual and that his conduct “was in no way intended to be disrespectful to any women involved,” the report said.
Callaway did not respond to a text message from The Associated Press.
Antonetti said he was not aware if the Mets reached out to the Indians while they were checking into C Callaway’s background before hiring him.
“Not to my knowledge, no,” he said. “And there had never been any complaints against Mickey in his time with us, either to me or to our human resources department or other leaders.”
Before he would address any questions about recent free-agent signings by the Indians, Antonetti wanted to discuss the “really important” issue regarding Callaway.
Antonetti acknowledged the courage shown by two female writers in reporting the piece and hopes more women feel empowered to come forward and “lead to a better future for our industry.”
Antonetti reiterated the team’s commitment to ridding the workplace of sexual harassment in light of the claims against Callaway.
“When I read them, I was disturbed, I was distraught and saddened,” he said. “It’s my responsibility as a leader of this organization to re-double our efforts to make sure that we have a safe and inclusive environment. As importantly, when we don’t and there are behaviors that are inconsistent with how people should be treated, we also have safe channels for them to share that so they can be handled appropriately.
“We know we have a lot of work to do to create that safe, inclusive environment that we want to continue to build organizationally, but I am committed to make sure that happens.”
Antonetti said the Indians are forming an internal group to figure out how to better help women feel safer.
“I have two daughters myself, and I think about the environment that I want them to be part of when they join the workforce or any place that they are,” he said. “And not only does it need to be safe, but it really needs to be inclusive and equitable. And I know that we have work to do to create the environment I would want for my daughters and that’s the exact same environment I would want for every teammate across our organization.”