Tuesday's MLB: Yankees fined $100,000 for improper use of dugout phone

Associated Press

New York — The New York Yankees were fined $100,000 by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for using their dugout phone to relay information about opposing teams’ signs during the 2015 season and part of 2016.

The fine was disclosed in a Sept. 14, 2017, letter from Manfred to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman that is set to be unsealed in U.S. District Court in New York this week as part of a dismissed lawsuit by a fan. The letter's contents were first reported Tuesday by SNY and the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

FILE -Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a news conference, Thursday March 10, 2022, in New York.

MLB has said the fine was for violating rules on the use of the dugout phone but made the distinction that the Yankees did not use electronics to steal signs, a greater violation that led in January 2020 to the Houston Astros getting fined $5 million and resulted in one-year suspensions for Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were both fired for the team's conduct during the 2017 season.

Manfred announced on Sept. 15, 2017, that he had fined the Yankees for violating a rule about the use of a dugout phone but did not publicly detail the violation and did not announce the fine amount. He announced the penalty at the same time he fined the Boston Red Sox for sending electronic communications from their video replay room to an athletic trainer in the dugout.

In the letter, Manfred said the Yankees filed a formal complaint with baseball’s department of investigations on Aug. 23, 2017, about the Red Sox using a smart watch to relay information to players.

During the probe, an individual — the name was redacted in the copy of the letter set to be unsealed — said, “the Yankees used a similar scheme to that of the Red Sox to decode opposing clubs’ signs and relay them to the batter when a runner was on second base,” according to Manfred’s letter.

An individual, whose name also was redacted, “who initially noticed that the Red Sox were using a smartwatch to pass information to their players -- admitted to the department of investigations that during the 2015 season and the first half of the 2016 season” that a redacted name “provided information about opposing club’s signs to players and members of the coaching staff in the replay room at Yankee Stadium, who then physically relayed the information to the Yankees’ dugout.”

A redacted name “also admitted that during that same time period, in certain stadiums on the road where the video room was not proximate to the dugout, used the phone line in the replay room to orally provide real-time information about opposing club’s signs to Yankee coaches on the bench.”

Manfred said the Red Sox submitted video of a Yankees game at the Los Angeles Angels on June 13, 2017, in which a Yankees bullpen coach used an unauthorized iPad to watch an Angels broadcast. Manfred wrote the broadcast was on a one-second delay and there was no evidence of sign stealing in that instance, but the use of the iPad was a violation.

“The New York Yankees were fined for improper use of the dugout phone because the replay review regulations prohibited the use of the replay phone to transmit any information other than whether to challenge a play,” MLB said in a statement Tuesday. “The Yankees did not violate MLB’s rules at the time governing sign stealing.

“At that time, use of the replay room to decode signs was not expressly prohibited by MLB rules as long as the information was not communicated electronically to the dugout. Because rules regarding use of replay had evolved, many clubs moved their video equipment to close proximity to the field, giving personnel the potential ability to quickly relay signs to the field."

MLB further detailed to teams the rules on electronic equipment when it made its Sept. 15, 2017, announcement, then issued tougher rules the following March 27. The league said Tuesday the latter rules made clear “any clubhouse or video room equipment could not be used to decode signs and that future violations of electronic sign stealing would be subject to serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks.”

The letter was produced as part of a lawsuit by five men who participated in fantasy contests hosted by DraftKings from 2017-19 and who sued Major League Baseball in January 2020. U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed the suit in April 2020 but ordered the letter unsealed. The Yankees asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision but Rakoff was upheld by a three-judge panel in March, and the team’s request for all 13 circuit judges to rehear the case was denied last week.

“At that point in time, sign stealing was utilized as a competitive tool by numerous teams throughout Major League Baseball and only became illegal after the commissioner’s specific delineation of the rules on Sept. 15, 2017,” the Yankees said in a statement.

“The Yankees vigorously fought the production of this letter, not only for the legal principle involved, but to prevent the incorrect equating of events that occurred before the establishment of the commissioner’s sign-stealing rules with those that took place after. What should be made vibrantly clear is this: the fine noted in Major League Baseball’s letter was imposed before MLB’s new regulations and standards were issued. Since Major League Baseball clarified its regulations regarding the use of video room equipment on Sept. 15, 2017, the Yankees have had no infractions or violations.”

White Sox OF Jiménez has surgery 

The Chicago White Sox are sticking with a six-to-eight week timeline for Eloy Jiménez after the outfielder had surgery Monday morning to repair a torn hamstring tendon behind his right knee.

Jiménez got hurt during Saturday's 9-2 loss at Minnesota when he stretched for first base while running out a grounder to third. The 25-year-old slugger stumbled after the play and his right knee appeared to lock up.

Jiménez's injury is similar to the one that sidelined White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal for almost two months last season. Right-hander Lance Lynn also is on the injured list with a similar issue after he was pulled from his final start of spring training with right knee discomfort.

Chicago White Sox's Eloy Jimenez leaves the field on a cart after falling to the turf on a groundout to the Minnesota Twins in the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Minneapolis.

“On the positive side of things, we obviously have some track record here and feel pretty confident in that six-to-eight-week return timeframe being the outer bounds, depending on any potential setbacks,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said.

Jiménez was sidelined for much of last year after he ruptured his left pectoral tendon trying to make a catch on a home run during a spring training game. He played in 55 games during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020, batting .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs.

He hit 31 homers in 122 games as a rookie in 2019, and Hahn disputed the idea that Jiménez is injury-prone.

“Just couldn't be further from the truth,” Hahn said. “In terms of the fact that he's missing significant time this year and last year, that's the extent that you could call the guy injury-prone.

“He made a bad decision last year trying to make a play. This year, again, trying to get to a level that he had barely accessed all year. That's more a guy ... trying to do everything he can to help his team win, even if it's perhaps not the right decision at that time. That's not a guy who's injury-prone.”

Also Monday, the White Sox reinstated reliever Matt Foster from the family leave list and optioned outfielder Adam Haseley to Triple-A. The 27-year-old Foster has no record and a 1.42 ERA in five relief appearances this season.

MLB scores

► BREWERS 12, PIRATES 8: Willy Adames homered twice and drove in a career-high seven runs, and Milwaukee beat Pittsburgh.

Adames hit a two-run blast in the first inning and a three-run drive during a six-run sixth for the NL Central-leading Brewers. It was the first multi-homer game of his career. He added a two-run double in the fifth and finished 4 for 5, raising his batting average 45 points to .239.

► TWINS 5, TIGERS 4: Detroit catcher Eric Haase made a throwing error on a botched rundown, capping a chaotic play that gave Minnesota two runs and a wild victory over Detroit.

Miguel Sanó had the final hit for the Twins — and his ill-advised baserunning after a long single off Detroit closer Gregory Soto (1-1) wound up helping them win their fifth in a row.

► PADRES 9, REDS 6: Eric Hosmer hit his first homer of the season and Jake Cronenworth added a bases-loaded triple during an eight-run fourth inning that sent San Diego past struggling Cincinnati.

The Reds who snapped an 11-game losing streak on Sunday, own baseball’s worst record at 3-14.

► METS 3, CARDINALS 0: Chris Bassitt pitched six strong innings, and New York beat St. Louis for its franchise-best sixth straight series win to start a season.

Bassitt (3-1) struck out six batters and allowed two hits and two walks. Edwin Díaz pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save in four opportunities.

► BRAVES 3, CUBS 1: Travis Demeritte hit his first big league homer in nearly three years and made an impressive catch to back another strong outing by Max Fried, giving Atlanta a much-needed win over Chicago.

The World Series champions won for only the third time in their last eight games. The Cubs have lost six of seven.

► BLUE JAYS 6, RED SOX 5, 10 INNINGS: George Springer hit a two-run homer to force extra innings, Raimel Taipa hit a game-ending sacrifice fly in the 10th, and Toronto handed slumping Boston its fourth straight loss.

Tapia hit a flyball to left on the ninth pitch of his at-bat against Matt Barnes (0-1), scoring automatic runner Bo Bichette.

► ROYALS 6, WHITE SOX 0: Daniel Lynch pitched six crisp innings and Kansas City handed Chicago its eighth straight loss.

Bobby Witt Jr. had two hits and Carlos Santana drove in two runs, helping Kansas City stop a four-game slide.

► RANGERS 5, ASTROS 1: Jake Odorizzi allowed one hit over six innings to end a long winless drought, and a rejuvenated Kyle Tucker homered and drove in three runs to power Houston past Texas.

Odorizzi (1-2) permitted just two baserunners and won for the first time in 10 starts since last August.

► MARINERS 8, RAYS 4: Logan Gilbert pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, Adam Frazier hit a three-run double and Seattle beat Tampa Bay.

Frazier’s double off Josh Fleming (2-2) came during a seven-run fourth inning for the Mariners that was made possible by back-to-back errors from shortstop Wander Franco and first baseman Ji-Man Choi.

► PHILLIES 10, ROCKIES 3: Odubel Herrera homered, doubled and drove in three runs, Zach Eflin pitched six strong innings and Philadelphia again took advantage of some shaky Colorado defense.

Charlie Blackmon hit two solo homers for Colorado.

► MARLINS 5, NATIONALS 2: Outfielders Jesús Sánchez and Avisaíl García each threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth inning, Joey Wendle hit his first homer and Miami beat reeling Washington.

Sandy Alcantara (2-0) extended his shutout streak to 17 innings over his past three starts for the Marlins and ended up giving up one run and six hits over six innings, aided by some bungling on the basepaths by the hosts.

MLB teams can carry 14 pitchers through May 29

Major League Baseball and the players' association are allowing teams to have an additional pitcher for most of May.

MLB and the union said Tuesday that teams may carry as many as 14 pitchers from May 2-29, a change the league said was “for player health purposes."

Tigers starting pitcher Matt Manning exited Saturday's game after two innings with shoulder discomfort.

The sides had said March 31 that a 13-pitcher limit would be enforced starting May 2. Teams and the union announced then that the active roster limit would be 28 from opening day on April 7 through May 1, then revert to 26 on May 2. The larger size during the initial weeks was in response to the shortened spring training that followed the lockout.

The active roster size increases to 28 on Sept. 1.