Retired Gattis: '17 Astros 'cheated baseball, fans'
Gattis was with the Astros for their historic run, which since has been disgraced by revelations of a sign-stealing scheme that cost general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch their jobs and a one-year ban from baseball. The repercussions swept up two other managers -- the New York Mets fired Carlos Beltran and the Boston Red Sox parted with Alex Cora -- who were part of the scheme in Houston in 2017.
"Everybody wants to be the best player in the (expletive) world, man," Gattis told The Athletic's "755 Is Real" podcast. "And we cheated that, for sure. And we obviously cheated baseball and cheated fans. Fans felt duped. I feel bad for fans.
"I'm not asking for sympathy or anything like that. If our punishment is being hated by everybody forever, just like, whatever. I don't know what should be done, but something had to (expletive) be done. I do agree with that, big-time. I do think it's good for baseball that we're cleaning it up. ... And I understand that it's not (expletive) good enough to say sorry. I get it."
Astros All-Stars Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve apologized publicly in brief statements at the start of spring training in February.
Gattis, who retired after the 2018 season, isn't the first member of the 2017 team to air a guilty conscience. Blue Jays reliever Ken Giles, the Astros' closer in 2017, said he would give his World Series ring back if asked.
Baseball launched an investigation after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, now with the Oakland Athletics, told The Athletic details of the sign-stealing operation, which included reviewing signs from a digital replay room and banging a garbage can a certain number of times based on the pitch that was coming.
The Astros were stripped of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and were fined $5 million, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the team would not lose its World Series title.
The 33-year-old Gattis said he didn't think Hinch liked the team cheating by stealing signs and said Beltran and others didn't put pressure on players to participate.
"Nobody made us do (expletive). You know what I'm saying? People saying this guy made us, that guy made us, that's not it. But you have to understand the situation was powerful," he said. "You work your whole life to try to (expletive) hit a ball, and you mean you can tell me what's coming? It was like, 'What?' It's a powerful thing, and there's millions of dollars on the line and (expletive). And that's the bad of it, too, that's where people got hurt. And that's not right. That's not playing the game right."
Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger filed a civil lawsuit against the Astros, alleging the sign-stealing caused a four-run, 29-pitch outing that effectively ended his career.
Dodgers' Turner: Settle games with HR derby after 10th inning
Speaking Thursday with Spectrum SportsNet, Turner proposed having games be decided by a home run derby should the score still be level after the 10th inning.
He brought up the suggestion as part of a discussion about how the baseball season will look once play starts after the coronavirus pandemic eases.
"Everyone's on board -- and I mean players and owners -- and the goal is to play as many games as possible," Turner said from his Southern California home. "There's nothing off limits right now, as far as I understand. ... It could be multiple doubleheaders a week, it could be seven-inning doubleheaders.
"There could be some new extra-inning rules being implemented. That's all conversations that will be had when we get a better idea of when the season is going to start. Roster expansion, (injured-list) stints ... it's all on the table right now. This is my opportunity to push for a home run derby in extra innings."
Turner explained his plan: "Instead of playing 17 innings, you get one extra inning, you play the 10th inning, and no one scores, then you go to a home run derby. You take each team's three best hitters and you give them all five outs and see who hits the most homers."
"You want to keep fans in the stands until the end of the game. I know when I go to hockey games, I actually enjoy watching shootouts. That keeps me in my seat, so maybe a home run derby will do that as well."
Turner's Dodgers would have strong options if the home run derby formula is implemented. He hit 27 homers last year but wound up just fourth on the team behind National League MVP Cody Bellinger (47), Joc Pederson (36) and Max Muncy (35). And in the offseason, the Dodgers added Mookie Betts, who hit 29 homers in 2019.
Turner, 35, was the MVP of the 2017 National League Championship Series and made the All-Star Game that same season. He has 120 homers in 1,072 career games with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets and Los Angeles.
Edmonds recovering, details coronavirus issues
Edmonds, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was diagnosed with pneumonia, said he went to the hospital with symptoms of the coronavirus but was told he didn't need a test. Edmonds insisted on being seen by ER personnel and eventually was tested for the coronavirus.
"If you don't feel good, go to the doctor or go to the emergency room if you can't breathe. That's what happened to me," Edmonds said via Instagram, adding that he's quarantined with his oldest daughter. "They didn't want to test me, and I forced them to take me into the emergency room, and, lo and behold, pneumonia and the virus. So, don't take it lightly, take care of yourselves. There's no medicine, there's no nothing, but rest, and that's all I've been doing."
Edmonds, 49, played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball. He was a four-time All-Star, won eight Gold Gloves and was part of the St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series in 2006.
He broke in with the California Angels in 1993, the first of six teams in his career.
White Sox play-by-play man Farmer dies at 70
Farmer, who worked for the team as a broadcaster the past 28 years after 11 seasons as a big-league pitcher, was a surviving recipient of a kidney transplant.
"Ed Farmer was the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox for three decades, and he called no-hitters, perfect games and of course, a World Series championship," Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "His experience as a major league All-Star pitcher, his wry sense of clubhouse humor, his love of baseball and his passion for the White Sox combined to make White Sox radio broadcasts the sound of summer for millions of fans. Ed grew up a Sox fan on the south side of Chicago and his allegiance showed every single night on the radio as he welcomed his ‘friends' to the broadcast. I am truly devastated by the loss of my friend."
Farmer, who received the kidney transplant in 1991, missed 30 games in the radio booth last season due to health issues.
He was born in Evergreen Park, Ill., and made the All-Star Game in 1980 as a reliever for the White Sox. His pitching career also included stints with the Indians, Orioles, Brewers, Rangers, Phillies, Tigers and Athletics.
Report: Ex-Astros manager, GM suspended only for 2020 even if no season
Luhnow and Hinch received one-year suspensions after an investigation showed the Astros implemented a system to alert their own batters of what pitches were coming by intercepting signs stolen using a digital replay room in 2017 and part of the 2018 season.
In handing down the punishment at the conclusion of the Major League Baseball investigation, commissioner Rob Manfred said the punishment ran through the end of the "2020 World Series."
Opening Day of the 2020 season already has been pushed back until at least mid-May due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But ESPN's Buster Olney said Thursday that MLB told him both suspensions would be considered served in 2020 with no additional punishment or extension.
Manfred said he is planning to release the findings of his investigation of the Boston Red Sox before the season begins. Manager Alex Cora was fired after the investigation into the Astros found Cora to be a ringleader of the 2017 scheme while he was a coach with the Astros.
The Astros won the World Series in 2017 and the Red Sox, with Cora as a rookie manager, won in 2018.
Athletics' Garrison making progress in coronavirus fight
Nikki Trudeaux, who has been posting updates on Garrison's conditions on social media sites, said Garrison's health has improved in recent days.
Trudeaux previously disclosed Garrison is on a ventilator as he deals with the coronavirus in a Louisiana hospital.
"Web was 100% dependent on the ventilator yesterday morning, 80% this morning and now 60% tonight," Trudeau wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. "His respiratory blood work came back really good, too!! He's coming back to us y'all!! He is turning the corner!"
The Athletics announced late last week that a minor league staffer had tested positive for COVID-19, but the club didn't identify Garrison.
"We want to extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers to our colleague for a speedy recovery," the team said. "We are committed to providing him and his family with support and care. Every person on our team plays a critical role to our success and we look forward to his return to the field when he is healthy."
Garrison served as manager of the Class A Stockton Ports last season. He is expected to lead one of the club's Arizona rookie-level teams this season.
Garrison played five games for the Athletics in 1996 and went hitless in nine at-bats with one walk. He became a coach at Oakland's minor league level in 1999 and is entering his 22nd season with the organization.
Rangers DH Choo donates $1K to team's 190 minor league players
Choo, 37, spent three seasons in the minors before he broke into the big leagues.
"I came here with nothing, but baseball has given me a lot since," Choo told Naver Sports of South Korea. "Minor league players are the future of our organization. I just hope that they can fight through and overcome this difficult time."
Choo is slated to earn $21 million this season, the final year of a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers.
He was signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2004 and began a ride through the minors as a teenager.
Diamondbacks IF Ahmed would play while wearing mask
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association continue dialogue regarding returning to the field and the stipulations for starting the season. Spring training was postponed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other pro sports leagues have held similar conversations, which include the possibility of playing in empty stadiums and arenas. Japan's Nippon Pro Baseball is resuming spring workouts, but one of the most highly regarded international pitchers -- Shintaro Fujinami -- has tested positive for the coronavirus. That league still plans to start the regular season April 24.
Health officials in the United States have advised against using masks for non-medical purposes due to the state-by-state shortage of appropriate personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks in hospitals.
Ahmed told the Associated Press that he would endorse wearing the mask if baseball suggested the use of face coverings temporarily.
"I'll be up for anything at this point just to be able to play," Ahmed said. "If they said, 'Hey, you can start games on May 15th or June 1st, but you have to wear masks.' If that's the only thing holding us back then sure, guys would do it."
"If it comes to playing with no fans for a little while, as much as that would be extremely weird and strange, we'd be open to it. Hopefully it wouldn't have to last a long time but to get more games in and get games on TV for fans to watch, we're all for that."
MLB cancels Cubs-Cards series in London
The National League Central rivals had been slated to play at Olympic Stadium on June 13-14.
"We made the decision because it was unlikely the events would go forward, and timely cancellation allowed us to preserve important financial resources," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a memorandum sent to league employees Wednesday.
"We also have canceled agreements with service providers and delayed projects that involve large capital expenditures."
MLB was bidding to play in Europe for the second consecutive year. The New York Yankees swept a pair of games from the Boston Red Sox in London on June 29-30, 2019.
MLB, which initially planned Opening Day for March 26, has delayed the start of its season until mid-May at the earliest.
The league had already canceled series scheduled for this season in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The San Diego Padres had been slated to play the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 18-19 in Mexico City, and the New York Mets were booked to play the Miami Marlins on April 28-30 in San Juan.
Andrews suspends Tommy John surgeries
"We are not performing any non-urgent or non-emergent procedures, including Tommy John surgery, in compliance with the governor's executive order," a spokesperson for the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine told the Boston Globe. "We are adhering to these restrictions and all such cases are suspended at this time."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning any surgery that wasn't immediately necessary or life-saving on March 20 to preserve medical resources for the seriously ill. Still, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery late last week in West Palm Beach, Fla., where it was performed by Dr. David Altchek.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale underwent the elbow surgery on Monday at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.
The facilities in West Palm Beach and Los Angeles are not public hospitals, rather specialized orthopedic facilities.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Sale's surgery, defended continuing the procedures in an interview last week with the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I know that I'm going to get criticized for taking care of these kinds of guys, but it's essential to their livelihoods," he said. "If you have somebody's career at stake and they lose two seasons instead of one, I would say that is not a nonessential or unimportant elective procedure."
MLB extends pay for minor leaguers
As with MLB play, the minor league season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each team also will provide support to players on Dominican Summer League rosters during the same time frame, MLB said in a statement.
MLB previously announced the players would receive pay through April 8 -- the day before the minor league season was set to start.
Major League Baseball previously announced a joint $1 million MLB-MLBPA food assistance fund to help people affected by the pandemic and a 30-Club, $30 million effort to support ballpark workers.
Red Sox LHP Sale undergoes Tommy John surgery
Famed surgeon Neal ElAttrache performed the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, according to a release by the club.
Sale, who turned 31 on Monday, underwent an MRI exam earlier this month that led to the diagnosis of a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm. At that point, ElAttrache and Dr. James Andrews were hoping rest and rehabilitation would allow Sale to avoid surgery.
"I talked to many doctors," Sale said on March 5. "World-renowned. They seemed confident. Everyone agreed -- take some time off, get some anti-inflammatories in there, start another throwing program and see what we get."
Sale, a seven-time All-Star, began throwing again two weeks ago at the team's facility in Fort Myers, Fla., and apparently the elbow didn't respond favorably.
Sale went on the disabled last August due to elbow inflammation and missed the rest of the season.
Sale posted a 6-11 record with a 4.40 ERA in 2019, the worst year statistically of his career since he entered the Chicago White Sox's rotation in 2012. Excluding his time as a reliever in 2010 and '11, he posted career lows in starts (25), wins and innings pitched (147 1/3) and the highest ERA in 2019.
He has a 109-73 career record (35-23 with Boston) with a 3.03 ERA. Sale has 2,007 strikeouts in 1,629 2/3 innings over 312 games (232 starts). His strikeout-to-walk ratio, 5.37, is the best in baseball history.
Sale signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension in March 2019. The deal runs through the 2024 season and will pay him $30 million in 2020.
Two Cubs' employees tested positive for coronavirus
The team said both employees attended an annual training session at Wrigley Field on March 8.
The Cubs said the positive test results were received on March 23 and 24. The team sent out an email to staff members on Friday.
The club urged all staff members to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also issued a reminder to closely monitor their health.
The Major League Baseball season is currently on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, which also shut down the NBA, NHL and MLS, caused the cancelation of the NCAA basketball tournaments and the postponement of numerous other sporting events.
Former star OF Edmonds hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms
Edmonds, 49, revealed his situation on Instagram, and displayed a picture of himself wearing a mask.
"Held off as long as I could," Edmonds wrote. "I thought I was tough enough to get through. This virus is no joke. #gethealthy."
Edmonds smacked 393 career homers in 17 seasons -- primarily with the Angels (1993-99) and Cardinals (2000-07) -- and was known for highlight-reel defensive catches that helped him win eight Gold Gloves.
He currently is a broadcaster on St. Louis' games for Fox Sports Midwest.
"Thinking of our friend, Jim Edmonds, and hoping he starts feeling better soon!" the Cardinals tweeted Saturday.
Edmonds also played for the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds. He batted .284 with 1,199 RBIs in 2,011 career games.
Report: Plan for Thanksgiving baseball being considered
USA Today also reported that under a deal reached Friday, players with guaranteed contracts will start receiving an advance of $5,000 a day for 60 days, up to a maximum of $300,000. Players would be obligated to give the money back if a season is played.
ESPN reported Friday that the deal includes a stipulation in which games will not resume until a ban on mass gatherings is lifted, although neutral-site games and games without fans are options that can be revisited.
The plan to extend the season until Thanksgiving is slightly less ambitious than the one super-agent Scott Boras proposed to the Los Angeles Times this week that would put a potential Game 6 of the World Series on Christmas Day.
Scheduling of games into late November and December could force the use of neutral-site venues in warm-weather cities, or in cities with domed stadiums, although few details were revealed in the Thanksgiving plan that was reported on Twitter.
Baseball's Opening Day was set to take place Thursday, but the coronavirus pandemic halted the schedule indefinitely. A best-case scenario reportedly has spring training resuming in May, with a start to the season in June, although the delay could be longer, if games are even played at all.
The intention of Boras' plan was to preserve a 162-game regular season, while the Thanksgiving plan would be done "just to play as many games resembling a full season as possible," according to USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale.
There is still no word on what will happen to the All-Star Game, which was scheduled to take place in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.
Report: Syndergaard has successful Tommy John surgery
The Mets announced earlier this week that the surgery would take place in Florida.
Syndergaard felt discomfort in his throwing elbow earlier this month during spring training, and an MRI exam revealed that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament.
Passan said Syndergaard is expected to be sidelined anywhere from 12 to 14 months and will return to the mound sometime in 2021.
The 27-year-old Syndergaard was 10-8 with a career-worst 4.28 ERA in 32 starts last season. He pitched a career-high 197 2/3 innings and struck out 202.
Syndergaard was an All-Star in 2016 when he went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings.
Overall, he is 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA in 119 career appearances (118 starts) since reaching the majors with the Mets in 2015.
Report: MLB, union reach deal on stoppage-related issues
The league received the right to shorten the number of rounds in the next two drafts while also pushing back the international signing periods through 2022, according to Passan.
In return, the players reportedly were guaranteed full service-time credit for 2020, even if no games are played this year. That means Mookie Betts, Marcus Stroman and dozens of other players will hit free agency as originally scheduled next winter regardless of when or if baseball resumes this year.
Arbitration cases also would take into account the potential reduction in games this year, treating players' 2020 statistics on a pro-rated basis when using past stats as a benchmark.
The owners received the right to cut the 2020 draft to five rounds, and the 2021 draft could be pared down to 20 rounds, according to Passan. Last year's draft went 40 rounds.
Earlier Thursday, ESPN reported that MLB plans to delay the draft, scheduled for June 10-12, by at least one month. Also, payment of signing bonuses reportedly could be deferred until 2021 or 2022.
The 2020 international signing period could be pushed back as far as January 2021, with the 2021-22 international signing period potentially being delayed to 2022, per the report.
Thursday was scheduled to be Opening Day for all 30 MLB teams, but spring training was halted on March 12, when an announcement was made that the start of the season would be delayed by at least two weeks.
MLB announced on March 16 that it was postponing the start of the season indefinitely.
On Wednesday night, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN's Scott Van Pelt that all options remain open for when play might start and what a potentially shortened season might look like.
"The one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back," Manfred said. "Whenever it's safe to play, we'll be back. Our fans will be back. Our players will be back. And we will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country, from this particular pandemic."
Astros great Jimmy 'Toy Cannon' Wynn dies at 78
The Astros announced the death of Wynn, who served as a community outreach executive for the club. Wynn was nicknamed the "Toy Cannon," a reference to his impressive arm and bat in relation to his 5-foot-9 stature.
The team wrote in a statement, "Today, we lost a very big part of the Astros family with the passing of Jimmy Wynn. His contributions to our organization both on and off the field are too numerous to mention. As an All-Star player in the 1960s and '70s, Jimmy's success on the field helped build our franchise from its beginnings. After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston.
"Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Marie, daughter, Kimberly, son, James Jr., to the other members of his family and to his many fans and admirers."
Born in Cincinnati on March 12, 1942, Wynn played with the Colt .45s/Astros from 1963-73, making the National League All-Star team in 1967. He ranked second in the NL that year with a career-high 37 homers -- even though he played half his games in the spacious Astrodome.
He was an All-Star in both of his seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1974 and '75) before finishing his career by playing for the Atlanta Braves (1976), New York Yankees (1977) and Milwaukee Brewers (1977).
In 15 major league seasons, Wynn batted .250 with a .366 on-base percentage, a .436 slugging percentage, 291 homers, 964 RBIs and 225 stolen bases in 1,920 games. He twice led the NL in walks and once topped the league in strikeouts.
The Astros retired Wynn's uniform No. 24 in 2005.
Manfred: Red Sox report coming before games resume
"We are done with the investigation," he said during an interview on ESPN's SportsCenter on Wednesday. "There's been a delay in terms of producing a written report, just because I, frankly, have not had time to turn to it with the other issues. But we will get a Boston report out before we resume play."
The "other issues," of course, include the interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Opening Day was originally scheduled for Thursday.
The Red Sox were investigated for allegedly using their video replay room to steal signs during the 2018 season, when they went on to win the World Series under first-year manager Alex Cora. Cora has since been dismissed by the team.
If the league did find sufficient evidence to punish the Red Sox, they could face similar sanctions to those levied against the Houston Astros in January for their own sign-stealing scheme.
The Astros were fined $5 million and stripped of their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season and then fired by the team. Cora was Houston's bench coach at the time.
MLB draft reportedly moved back to July
ESPN reported the draft is likely to be shortened with bonuses deferred due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.
MLB and the Players Association are engaged in talks that would reduce the draft to between five and 10 rounds, ESPN reported. Signing bonuses with a small upfront payment and larger amounts due in July 2021 and July 2022, are planned for the deferral of bonuses.
The No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft was Oregon State catcher Adley Rutchsman, who signed for $8.1 million, a record baseball bonus.
All 2020 undrafted players would have a maximum signing bonus of $10,000, according to the report.
The 2019 draft was held June 3-5 and had 40 total rounds.