Indians deny stealing signs
Following Monday’s 10-9 Reds loss to the Indians, starter Mat Latos implied rather strongly that Cleveland’s hitters were stealing signs from second base.
“A couple of [times with] runners on second base, they put better swings on the ball than they did most of the time without a runner on second base,” Latos said after the game. “Choo hit that double and then [Asdrubal] Cabrera was up. Me and [catcher Ryan] Hanigan changed the signs up. He called for a slider. We were going with a certain call. That certain call we were going with beforehand was a curveball. I threw a slider and he was looking breaking ball and was jammed on a slider.
“That, to me, shows me a little something. Other than that, I was up in the zone. I made a couple of bad mistakes and they hit them.”
The Indians denied any sign stealing.
“He can think what he wants,” Cleveland left fielder Johnny Damon said. “It does [happen in baseball]. Your job and your objective is to go out and win ballgames any way you can. Some teams are better than others at relaying signs. A lot of players don’t like signs given to them. A lot of players like to react. You have to have a certain group, whether it’s guys who came up together or guys who understand the importance of knowing what pitch is coming. All I can say is we haven’t done it all year. If we started last night, then that’s news to me. Please tell me what’s coming.”
“I dont think our kids are into that. We don’t teach that,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Hey, you’re going to get hit sometimes We go through it sometimes here, too. When kids struggle, they seem to think that people are relaying signs. There’s nothing to it. This is the big leagues. Everybody can hit a 99 mph fastball and anybody can hit a pitch over the plate. They’re going to do it sometimes. They do it to the great Verlander and some other guys.
Latos gave up seven runs and eight hits over four innings while blowing three leads. Seven of the hits went for extra bases, including three homers.
Acta was asked if it’s hard to steal signs from second base.
“It’s not that easy. Some people have been labeled as gurus at stealing a third-base coach’s signs. Believe me, it’s not that easy. I coached third base for five years in the big leagues and it’s not that easy. Ninty-nine-point-nine percent of players at the plate don’t want to know what’s coming, either. You really don’t want to be taking a chance of leaning out over the plate for a 78 mph changeup and have a 95 mph fastball at your helmet. By the time you go complain to the runner at second base, you might be with the paramedics.
“That’s part of the game. That’s why people have signs, so the other team doesn’t know what you’re doing. That’s great, though. People think that our kids are so bright and so smart this early that they can do all that. It gives us some advantage. Make sure you write about it, so the other clubs will go crazy when we come into town, and start changing signs and catchers get crossed up and we advance runners and stuff. We’ve had some tough times just picking up Smitty’s [third-base coach Steve Smith] signs, which are our own signs.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker did not feel that sign stealing was an issue on Monday.
“I’m not going to accuse anybody of something that I’m not sure of,” Baker said. “You don’t really have to steal signs when the ball is over the heart of the plate and up. … It just wasn’t a quality night. He made a number of mistakes last night.”
Catcher Ryan Hanigan said this:
“We did change our signs. At that point, the damage was already done for the most part. But I always watch to see if the hitters at second are looking in, even while I’m giving the signs. I try to give the signs quickly and try to see if I see movement or anything. I pay attention to stuff like that to make sure it doesn’t happen. If they were getting signs, it’s not acceptable. It’s something that’s preventable.”
“I don’t think that was necessarily at all the reason why things didn’t go the way they needed to go last night.”
Finally, an unnamed Indians hitter said this:
“Tell him you don’t have to steal signs when you’re tipping pitches.”