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Tigers' Cameron Maybin regrets not speaking up against Astros' sign-stealing scheme in '17

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Cameron Maybin had but a cameo role in the Houston Astros’ World Series championship run in 2017. He joined the club in September, played in 21 regular season games and six playoff games.

Still, he still stood up Sunday, on his first day back with the Tigers, and expressed his regret for taking part in the sign-stealing scandal that cost manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs and tainted the achievements of that team.

Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin played 21 regular-season games with the Houston Astros in 2017.

“Honestly, I feel like things that went on in the 2017 season with the Astros — which I was there for a month and some change — definitely doesn’t reflect how I approach the game and how I play the game,” said Maybin, who is back for a third stint with the Tigers. “Hindsight is 20-20. It’s tough. Being in that locker room, knowing what was going on, we all could have said something about it.

“Personally, for me, it’s tough coming into an organization that late and thinking you’re just going to change something. Again, there’s no excuse. But to see all this unfold now, I can’t say I’m surprised.”

According to research done on the website signstealingscandal.com, of the 56 pitches that Maybin saw in games that video was available, the trash can in the dugout banged on 13 of them. So, his bang percentage was 23 percent.

Maybin was able to chuckle, though, when it was suggested that he might have missed the memo, since he only hit .186 in his 21 games with the Astros, and of his four home runs, only one came after a trash can banged in the dugout.

“I was never really pressured (about using the system),” he said. “It took at least a week or two before I even heard about it. But I was never really pressured about it. With that, I just kind of kept my head down and tried to approach the game the I always approached it.

“Hearing what I am hearing now, that system was very much in place well before spring training even started. But I’m not a guy that goes in and asks a bunch of questions. I just keep my head down and do what I’ve been accustomed to doing. It’s a tough situation.”

The backlash from the scandal continues, especially after the Astros’ weak attempt at an apology fell flat, with owner Jim Crane essentially saying the sign-stealing didn’t impact the games.

“It was not successful,” commissioner Rob Manfred said of the apology in an interview with ESPN Sunday.

Maybin was asked if he felt his championship ring is tarnished.

“I know people are going to have their opinion,” he said. “At the end of the day, when you are in a locker room with guys you create a brotherhood and a friendship, a camaraderie and chemistry and for me, I appreciate that bond in this game and the relationships you create.

“Do I understand people’s opinions if they think it is. I can’t say anything. If they think it’s tarnished, people are entitled to their opinion.”

Manfred said stripping the Astros of their title was discussed, but ultimately the idea was nixed.

"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act,” he said. “People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty."

More: Wojo: With Houston Asterisks, baseball fans get scammed again

Rival players, especially those on the Dodgers and other teams the Astros beat on their way to the title in 2017, have been outspoken about their dismay that none of the Astros players were punished. Manfred addressed that, as well.

“Yeah, I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here," Manfred said in an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravich. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.

“Having said that, the desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world it would have happened. We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

Maybin was asked if he expected retaliation from teams against Astros players?

“I mean, if you took some losses at the hands of that team, there’s going to be speculation and guys are going to start to think,” he said. “I’m not saying you have the right (to retaliate), but something could happen.”

If there were any bad feelings about Maybin's association with the Astros in 2017, it was well-hidden as players, coaches, clubhouse attendants and front office folks greeted him with open arms and a lot of smiles.

"None," manager Ron Gardenhire said when asked if he had any concerns about Maybin's Astros' ties. "We've already dealt with it, baseball has dealt with it. We're past it and we're here to play baseball. It's 2020, right?

"I don't worry about that stuff. It's all been out there and we're moving forward. We're just happy to have him here. That's all I care about. He's a good baseball player and a good guy."  

As he did when he was with the Yankees last season, Maybin said he is willing to share whatever information he has about the Astros with his teammates in Detroit.

“If they ask me, 100% I will,” he said. “I’m very loyal to who I’m playing for. With that said, I’m going to be as open as I’ve been on any other team I’ve been on about anything they might want to know.

“With the Yankees last year and when we faced the Astros in a tough series, those guys are my brothers, but we had good conversations about the possibility of things that I will keep between those guys. But basically just, you know, heads up.”

Manfred said he expects to have a plan in place before the 2020 season to further dissuade teams from trying to cheat using technology. 

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky