MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has called the Boston Red Sox reportedly stealing signs from the New York Yankees using an Apple Watch "competitive activity," and he refused to discuss what type of punishment the league could impose.
On Thursday, TMZ Sports passed along comments from Manfred, who appeared to downplay the extent of the scandal amid a probe into the situation.
"Look, I think it's a reflection of competitive activity between two clubs," Manfred said. "I'm sure we'll investigate and reach a resolution that preserves the integrity of the game."
He added: "I'm not gonna talk about potential discipline at this point. We haven't even completed the investigation."
Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported Tuesday that league investigators determined the Red Sox "executed a scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents' catchers" when playing against the Yankees, who had filed a compliant, as well as other teams.
The report noted the Red Sox "admitted that their trainers had received signals from video replay personnel and then relayed that information" to players. Manfred confirmed to the Times he possesses the power to punish Boston for its actions, but he isn't sure whether it is warranted.
"Has it ever happened with this type of allegation? I think the answer is—I know the answer is no," he said. "And the reason for that is it's just very hard to know what the actual impact on any particular game was of an alleged violation."
Longtime Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said Wednesday attempting to steal signs from an opponent to gain an advantage is ingrained in baseball, per Scott Lauber of ESPN.com.
"It's part of the game," Pedroia said. "Our adjustment to that stuff is: Go out to the mound and change the signs. It's been around a long, long time. We were doing that at Douglass Junior High School [in Woodland, California], where I played. So, I don't think this should be news to everybody."
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe noted other teams want the league to drop the hammer on Boston in order to set a precedent for this type of activity, though.
"There are 29 other teams very interested to see what happens to the Red Sox," an American League general manager said. "This needs to be dealt with sternly by the commissioner's office. If it isn't, the Red Sox got away with one."
"If [they don't receive a severe penalty] it's a joke," another AL executive said. "I don't know how many wins their actions gave them or cost other teams, but it's something."
Manfred hasn't provided a timetable for his final decision about any Red Sox punishment.