LOS ANGELES — Already in the spotlight in October for an assortment of reasons, Manny Machado undoubtedly will receive extra attention from the Boston Red Sox on Friday night if he reaches second base in Game 3 of the World Series.
That's because the Sox say they caught him stealing and relaying signs from second base to hitters in the fourth inning of Game 2 Wednesday night in Boston, a 4-2 Red Sox victory.
"I wish I would have gone out there before the [Yasiel] Puig at-bat, before he came up in that situation, because I saw the whole thing," Dana LeVangie, Boston's pitching coach, told B/R late Wednesday night, referring to Puig's RBI single in the fourth that lifted Los Angeles to a brief 2-1 lead.
David Freese and Machado led off the fourth with singles against Boston starter David Price, and then Chris Taylor walked, moving the runners up. That's when Machado reached second.
From there, after Kemp drove in Freese from third with a sacrifice fly by swinging at the first pitch he saw from Price, things really got entertaining.
Throughout Enrique Hernandez's nine-pitch battle with Price, Machado appeared to be relaying signs and/or location to Hernandez through an exaggerated series of motions.
As Price was coming set, Machado, leading off from second, would place his hands on his hips. Then, just before each pitch, Machado would begin a series of motions: touching his helmet with either his right or left hand, sometimes then touching or pulling the script on his jersey afterward and other times grabbing or touching the thigh/groin area of his pants.
As the at-bat unfolded, LeVangie remained in the dugout while Price fell behind Hernandez 2-1 and then 3-2 before—following three foul balls—throwing a 93 mph fastball that Hernandez swung through for strike three.
"Was it a little exaggerated? Yeah, maybe, but I saw the whole thing," LeVangie said of Machado's gyrations. "I had told [Boston manager] Alex [Cora] I wanted to go [to the mound] before the Puig at-bat because I wanted to talk about some things.
"But when a guy gets a big punchout in that situation and a coach comes out to take a visit...I didn't want to f--k with the momentum there because David got a huge strikeout."
Plus, catcher Christian Vazquez had taken a mound visit already in the inning, trotting out for a chat with Price after Machado's base hit to put two runners aboard with none out. LeVangie was worried about slowing Price after the lefty's good start to the game, so he stayed put.
Then, there were two out and runners on first and second, and the score was 1-1.
From second, Machado gestured again. Puig swung at the first pitch he saw, a 93 mph fastball, knocking an RBI single into center to give the Dodgers their first—and only—lead of the series. It was Machado who scored.
"David makes a good pitch on Puig," LeVangie said. "He jams him. [Puig] gets a flare. Then I gotta go out. But I talked to him with some small things after that, and he got out of that inning.
"I had a clear point I wanted to [make] after that at-bat because I saw Manny the entire time. I knew what he was doing."
Angry with himself because he felt his decision to delay the visit cost the Red Sox, LeVangie went out after Puig's RBI single to talk with Price and Vazquez, clearly to discuss what was occurring behind Price at second base and to change signs.
"We had a conversation," LeVangie said. "I don't want to get into the depths of it, but I brought up exactly what you're talking about.
"I let it get in my way—because of the strikeout, I didn't go out there [earlier]. I was so pissed that I didn't."
Price had not allowed a hit in the first three innings of Game 2, and after he escaped the fourth, he threw two more hitless frames. While it is unclear whether Price knew what was occurring behind him during the Hernandez and Puig at-bats in the fourth, LeVangie was doing his best to properly time his interruption.
"I just told him, 'Hear me out. I know this is not the right time, but hear me out,'" LeVangie said.
Cora declined comment to B/R on Thursday at Dodger Stadium when asked about the dugout conversation with LeVangie in the moment and for his take on the episode overall.
"I don't have a take," Cora said following an off-day media briefing.
Vazquez, Price and Machado were not available for comment because neither team worked out at Dodger Stadium following all-day travel.
Stealing signs has been around practically since baseball was invented—or, as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday in Boston, "It's been a part of our game since Lassie was a puppy."
It's become a hot topic this October because of various accusations of video shenanigans in the digital age that would violate baseball rules if true and because so much video scouting leaves pitchers vulnerable to tipping their pitches and offering hitters strong clues as to what is coming. Boston closer Craig Kimbrel has had a rough October stretch because of the latter.
Machado, meanwhile, has been in the headlines after being called a "dirty player" by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich during the NLCS and after he told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that hustling isn't "my cup of tea" and that he is not "Johnny Hustle" after being called out for not running hard on various plays this season.
Being caught apparently relaying signs to Dodgers hitters from second base is nowhere close to the dirty-player charges, LeVangie emphasized.
"Oh, it's clean," the pitching coach said. "It's baseball. If you're not hiding your stuff with a runner on second base and you're giving them a free view, that's on you, the pitcher and the catcher. It's up to the pitcher and catcher to manage that and to us to oversee it and make sure we're going about it the right way.
"We see this all the time. Not just him, with everyone. We are very respectful of all this, and it's a big part of who we are and what we try to manage. As far as our pitching staff, we want to make sure we control those guys at second base and [that] they're not stealing our signs. We're changing our signs constantly, every pitch. Typically, every one of our pitchers will change every pitch."
If you're wondering why the average time of a postseason game is stretching to nearly four hours, this is one small example. You can never be too careful.
From second base the other night, though, because Machado was almost flamboyant in what he appeared to be doing, it didn't take a professional detective to sniff out that one.
Asked whether he had seen anything as obvious recently, LeVangie chuckled and said "yes."
"I've seen worse in Little League a few years ago," he said. "It was a Little League World Series game I saw on television. It was extremely obvious."
Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.