Rays’ Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow think Astros players got off easy

Discipline for sign-stealing scheme was lax, Rays pitchers say, as participating hitters should have been disciplined as well.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow prepares to warm up on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow prepares to warm up on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jan. 24, 2020|Updated Jan. 25, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Tyler Glasnow still doesn’t know if his tipping of pitches was really why the Astros hit him so hard in the first inning of the Rays’ season-ending playoff loss, and admitted that seeing Houston disciplined by Major League Baseball for stealing signs in a previous season has left him wondering even more.

“I’d lie if I told you I didn’t think about it like after all the stuff came out, and like how on they were on every pitch," he said Friday. “But again, I don’t know. It has to be, like, proven. ... I’m not ruling anything out. But I’m kind of just rolling with it at this point.”

Glasnow, along with rotation mate Blake Snell, did say the Astros players should have been punished, along with the team, for participating in the sign-stealing scheme.

“I just feel like it’s relatively lax for what was done and the advantages you could have when you know what pitches are coming," Glasnow said after a workout at the Trop.

“It just seems like if you’re going to cheat and you’re involved as a player there should be some sort of repercussion. I’ve heard the investigation is kind of still going on, but I don’t know."

Snell said he considers the sign-stealing ploy — which the league found involved using a camera and monitors to get and decode the signs, then relay them to the hitters during the 2017 season — was more egregious than players using performance-enhancing drugs.

“There has to be more toward the players because they’re the ones that executed it," Snell said. “It’s just sad. All around, it’s just sad. … If you think about all the things that have happened with likes PEDs and stuff, they get punished. I feel like cheating is worse. Steroids, you got all big and buff but you still had to hit the ball, but you didn’t know what was coming.

“When you know what’s coming, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. I feel like you have to do something about that."

The Rays, like other teams, tried to protect themselves, Snell said, as he used seven different sets of signs during his ALDS outings.

After finding the Astros guilty (and saying it was continuing to investigate the 2018 Red Sox), the league suspended Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch (who were later fired), fined the team and took away draft picks, but did not discipline any players.

Related: Baseball found its scapegoats, but did it really frighten the cheaters?

Glasnow said when he initially reviewed video from the four-run first inning in Game 5 of the 2019 AL Division Series, he saw some indications he was tipping, primarily by holding his glove differently based on whether he was throwing a fastball or curve, making it easy, and not illegal, for the Astros to know. Plus, he said that since he pretty much throws only two pitches (fastball and curve), narrowing it down would be a huge benefit to the hitter.

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“Sometimes I could go and be like, ‘Wow, that looks like I’m tipping,' but I could probably do that for all my starts in season," he said. “Just depends on what they could pick up and what they did pick up. Another possibility is they didn’t have anything and they just hit me well. I can sit in my head and think about all the possibilities of what happened, but I’ve moved on."

Rays manager Kevin Cash said he thought the league handled the situation properly:

“We’ve seen enough of the details that it was a pretty extensive search and committee that they put together to find the information out, and I think it’s best in our interest to kind of move past it now and get ready for the 2020 season."

Snell game

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell talks with reporters on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell talks with reporters on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [ DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Snell left his Seattle-area home to come to Florida several weeks earlier than usual to get to work after a disappointing 2019 that saw him sidelined twice by injury, then limited during the postseason.

“He’s pretty focused on turning the page on 2019 as it relates to the injury or anything else," pitching coach Kyle Snyder said. “He’s about as driven as I’ve seen him, which says a lot."

Cash noted that Snell had put on muscle and looked good. Snell said he felt healthy and ready to go, but stopped there: “You could say I’m stronger, I like that. But muscular? Not me."


Cash said the Rays had been talking for years about Jose Martinez, whom they acquired recently from St. Louis: “He can hit. He can flat out hit. And you’re going to welcome that presence, that bat, in any lineup." … Prospect Brent Honeywell, who has missed the past two seasons due to two serious elbow injuries, has resumed playing catch and is confident he will make it to the majors sometime this season. … Lefty Ryan Yarbrough said he heads to spring training hoping to win a full-time spot in the rotation rather than pitch primarily behind an opener.