Yankees' Aroldis Chapman: Jose Altuve's actions were 'suspicious', sign-stealing made Astros 'stronger'

Thursday morning, the Houston Astros issued their first public apology for the sign-stealing scandal, which has dominated headlines since November. Owner Jim Crane, new manager Dusty Baker, and star players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve gave prepared statements at a press conference at the team's spring training complex.

"Our opinion is this didn't impact the game," Crane said when asked whether stealing signs gave the Astros an unfair advantage. "We had a good team. We won the World Series and we'll leave it at that."

Crane contradicted himself moments later -- "I didn't say it didn't impact the game" -- but his original comments made their way to New York Yankees camp on the other side of Florida. Closer Aroldis Chapman disagreed with Crane's sentiment.

"Is that the sole reason they won the World Series? I don't know," Chapman told reporters, including ESPN's Buster Olney. "But what I can say that when you have an advantage like that, it's definitely going to make you a stronger team."

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Aroldis Chapman NYY • RP • 54
ERA2.21
WHIP1.11
IP57.0
BB25
K85

Chapman was part of the 2017 Yankees team that lost to the Astros in the ALCS. He was also part of the 2019 Yankees team that lost to the Astros in the ALCS. Chapman surrendered Jose Altuve's series-clinching home run in Game 6. Videos have since circulated showing Altuve did not want his jersey removed as he rounded the bases.

The implication is Altuve did not want his jersey removed because it would reveal a buzzer, which the Astros are alleged to have worn as part of a new sign-stealing scheme. The Astros have denied using buzzers and Altuve says he didn't want his jersey removed because he's shy. Chapman isn't buying it though. Here's what he told the New York Post's Ken Davidoff on Thursday:

"Yeah, I've seen that video," Chapman said Thursday morning, through an interpreter, at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "I think a lot of people have seen that video. It's a popular video right now. And yeah, if you look at his actions, they look a little suspicious. But at the end of the day, I just don't know" whether Altuve illegally knew what pitch was coming.  

...

"I assume responsibility for how the events developed," Chapman said. "I gave up the homer and we lost, and that's the bottom line. I was the pitcher on the mound. I was the guy facing Altuve  

Chapman also said, "I think it was the extra edge that allowed them to move on," in 2017. The 2017 ALCS went the full seven games with the home team winning each contest. The Yankees actually outscored Houston 22-20 in the series, but the Astros won close one-run games at Minute Maid Park in Games 1 and 2.

Earlier this week Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka said he believes the Astros cheated the Yankees out of a World Series. Others, including the retired CC Sabathia, has expressed a similar sentiment. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday he wants his players to vent their frustration, but vent it early in spring training and move on to 2020.

"The range of emotions is huge -- mad, frustrated, disappointed," Boone said. "Some guys will want to talk about it and give you a lot. Some guys have already moved on."

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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