TAMPA Fla. — New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton on Wednesday called out Houston Astros owner Jim Crane for saying that his club’s illegal sign-stealing system “may or may not have” had an impact on the competition on the field.
Stanton, acquired by the Yankees before the start of the 2018 season, led the majors with 59 home runs in 2017 as a member of the Miami Marlins, the most home runs by a major league player since 2001.
“If I knew what was coming in ’17, I probably would have hit 80 plus home runs,” said Stanton, who quipped, “He knew. He knew,” when told of Crane’s ambivalence in addressing the impact of sign stealing.
“It would have been better if there was an apology or explanation on their side,” he added. “We know that (the Astros) don’t really care to give an apology or explain their side, and it showed by their response. As players, we know that. You know the repercussions of doing something like that, and you’re only really sorry because you got caught.”
Stanton also agreed with teammate Aaron Judge, who stated that Astros players should not have only being directly punished by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, but should also vacate their 2017 championship.
“They did their investigation and it was clean cut that they cheated that year, which means it should be taken away. I mean, if i if you cheat in another way during the season you can’t even be in the playoffs, so therefore would be eliminated. So it’s pretty much the same, same difference,” Stanton said. “I don’t think the penalties were harsh enough player-wise. I think that, at the end of the day it gives more incentive to do that, if you’re not going to punish the players that took part in it.”
Mike Fiers, the former Astros pitcher who was the whistleblower that spurred the investigation led by MLB that confirmed the club had cheated by using a camera-based, sign-stealing system during their 2017 World Series-winning regular season and playoffs, and during part of the 2018 regular season, has a long history with Stanton.
In September 2014, Fiers was pitching when he hit Stanton in the face with a fastball, causing severe injuries to the then-Marlins star and effectively ending his season. Fiers’ pitch struck Stanton on the left side of the jaw and he had to be carted off the field. Since that incident, there has been no love lost between Fiers and Stanton.
When asked whether he had gained respect for Fiers for speaking out, Stanton said it didn’t change anything between the two.
“No, not really,” he said. “This isn’t about me and him. This information would have come to light eventually; maybe not as soon, but it has nothing to do with me and him.”
After struggling with biceps, shoulder, calf and knee injuries throughout the season, Stanton said that 2019 was without question the most frustrating year of his career. After playing in only 18 regular-season games, and being limited during the 2019 postseason due to a quad strain, Stanton claims he has fully rehabbed his injuries.
“I didn’t have much time off. I got my rest, but I had to rehab the moment the season was over and then by the time I was done rehabbing, I had my normal offseason training. Just getting my knee and quad to full strength,” he said. “I did everything I needed to do. (This spring) I have no limitations; just have to be smart with the workload, getting back into it. But no limitations.”
Manager Aaron Boone said the 30-year-old’s role, whether he’ll start primarily in left field or as designated hitter, remains “fluid.”
“Whatever works best for the team. That’s kind of like we did my first season here. It’s just like, here’s a plan for the next three days. What do you think? How can we make it better?” said Stanton when addressing whether there was an ideal balance between playing the field and DH’ing. “Just go with the flow. Whatever works.”