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Lakeland, Fla. – Miguel Cabrera confronted his friend and Venezuelan countryman Jose Altuve and asked him if he was cheating.

Two years ago.

“We knew that (the Houston Astros sign-stealing methods) from a long time ago,” Cabrera said Monday morning. “Two years ago, we knew. So, when I asked him again this offseason, it was the same conversation we had two years ago.”

Altuve has adamantly denied charges that he wore a buzzer underneath his jersey in the ALCS last year, and he also denied that he used the sign-stealing system the Astros had in place in 2017 and 2018. In fact, data recorded off the video of each Astros game (signstealingscandal.com) supports Altuve’s denial.  

“He told me he didn’t do it and I believe him,” Cabrera said. “People made fun of him about the tattoo, but that’s real. It’s real.”

Altuve told reporters he didn’t want his shirt ripped off after he hit a walk-off home run to beat the Yankees in Game 6 last year because he had a tattoo on his shoulder that wasn’t finished. Early in spring training, Altuve walked past reporters without his shirt on, overtly displaying the finished tattoo.

“But when you’re involved in a team like that, a team that’s doing that kind of stuff, you are part of it,” Cabrera said. “Even if you didn’t do it.”

Guilty by association. Still, Cabrera reached out to Altuve again this winter.

“I believe he didn’t do it because he say that to my face,” Cabrera said. “He looked me in the eye and said he didn’t do it. I believe him.”

Cabrera seemed more perturbed at former teammate Mike Fiers, who was the initial whistle-blower on the Astros. Even though Fiers warned Tigers pitchers about the Astros’ methods when he was in Detroit in 2018, Cabrera felt it was hypocritical that he didn’t speak up when he was with the Astros.

Mostly, though, Cabrera wants the episode put to bed.

“It’s over with,” he said. “It’s not good for baseball. So why keep talking about something that is no good for baseball? It’s over. The commissioner made a statement and that’s it. We can’t do anything more about it.”

The Tigers and Astros play a Grapefruit League game Monday at 1 p.m. at Lakeland.

Twitter @cmccosky

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