TAMPA, Fla. – Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez and manager Aaron Boone are not convinced the Houston Astros' use of electronics did not continue into last year's AL Championship Series.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred found the Astros broke rules against electronic sign stealing in 2017, including during the postseason, and during the 2018 regular season. The 2019 Astros were not implicated.
José Altuve sparked speculation of nefarious conduct when he hit a pennant-winning homer off the Yankees' Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the 2019 AL Championship Series, then told teammates not to rip off his jersey as he completed his home-run trot. Some suggested he may have been wearing a buzzer underneath the jersey that could have signaled anticipated pitches.
“It's a good question. I'll tell you that if I hit a homer and I get my team to the World Series, they can rip off my pants," Sánchez said through a translator Thursday as Yankees pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. "They can rip everything off if I get the team to the World Series hitting a walkoff homer like that. They can rip anything off."
Boone said he was not sure there was no rules breaking in last year's playoff against the Astros.
"That's certainly one of those great unknowns," Boone said. “I've spent time, as I'm sure a lot of people have, wondering all the things that could have potentially been going on, and we'll probably never know for sure, frankly.”
Boone still considers the three managers that lost their jobs due to to be friends: Houston's AJ Hinch, Boston's Alex Cora and the New York Mets' Carlos Beltrán. Boone says he has struggled “making sense of it all.”
“Wrestle with my emotions, in a way get some clarity,” Boone said. “I don't think you ever totally get there, and that's OK. I think as human beings we all fall down and we fall short, and none of us are perfect.”
Boone exchanged text message with Hinch shortly after the investigation began in November but has not spoken to him.
Houston also beat the Yankees in a seven-game ALCS in 2017. The Astros won all four home games against the Yankees in the playoffs, when the Houston players had the advantage of the sign-stealing system, and lost all three in the Bronx. The scores of the first two games were both 2-1.
"It's tough," Sánchez said. “It doesn't feel good as a ballplayer when you hear something like that. I can tell you as a hitter if I know that something is coming, I'm going to have a higher percentage on being more successful.”
New York pitcher Luis Severino said he was mad when Manfred's report was released but is not looking for an apology from Houston players.
"For me it's already in the past," Severino said. "I have to focus on 2020. We can get mad, we can get anything, but we can't change the past. It's already done."
COLE' S SESSION
Gerrit Cole, dressed in pinstripes pants and a dark batting practice jersey with No. 45 on the back and a 25th anniversary patch of spring training at Steinbrenner Field, looked sharp in a 25-pitch bullpen session.
RHP Domingo Germán, out until early June while serving a suspension for violating baseball's domestic violence policy, will not be at spring training but will work out at the Yankees' complex in the Dominican Republic. ... Boone is confident slugger Giancarlo Stanton is healthy following an injury-filled 2019 but is not sure how often Stanton will play in the outfield. ... Recently retired CC Sabathia will be a guest instructor. ... LHP James Paxton (back surgery) could start throwing in couple weeks. He is expected to miss the first two months of the regular season.