About a week after some of his former Houston Astros teammates were mum on the subject of illegal sign stealing, Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel was both apologetic and surprised at the attention surrounding the biggest scandal to hit baseball since the steroid era.
"I think first and foremost, apologies should be in order ... for everyone on the team," Keuchel said Friday, becoming the first member of the 2017 squad that won the World Series to publicly apologize. "When the stuff was going on, it was never intended to be what it's made to be right now."
Keuchel pitched for the Astros from 2012 through 2018 before signing with Atlanta last season and then the White Sox last month. Earlier this offseason, the 2017 Astros team was found guilty of illegally stealing signs from opposing teams using electronic technology. It led to the suspension and subsequent firing of Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
"When stuff comes out over the course of a big league ball season, it's always blown up to the point of, 'Oh my gosh, this has never happened before,'" Keuchel said at the first day of the White Sox's winter fan fest. "I'm not going to go into specific details, but during the course of the playoffs in 2017, everyone was using multiple signs. For factual purposes, when there is no one on base, when in the history of baseball has there been multiple signs?
"There was probably six out of eight teams using multiple signs. It's just what the state of baseball was at that point and time. Was it against the rules? Yes, it was, and I personally am sorry for what has come about, the whole situation."
The scheme came to light when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers went public with details in The Athletic. While many observers suspected teams were stealing signs to gain an advantage for their hitters, no one knew the extent of the technology being used.
"A lot of guys are not happy with the fact that Mike came out and said something, or the fact that this even happened," Keuchel said. "At the same time, there is some sorrow in guys' voices. ... This will be going on for a long time, but I'm sure in the back of guys' minds, this is still fresh.
"I don't think anyone is going to come out from other teams. They see what happens now."
Keuchel indicated the Astros didn't always have their opponents' signs.
"I could tell you, not every game there was signs being stolen," he said. "Sometimes we did, as a group, have signs, but we still couldn't hit the pitcher. Not like every game we had everything going on.
"So at that point that's when the whole system, it really works a little bit, but at the same time, there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters."
The scandal also took down the managers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, as Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, respectively, were both part of the illegal activities when they were with the Astros in 2017. Cora reportedly set up the Astros' sign-stealing system.
"It just happened to come out with the Astros," Keuchel said. "Did pitchers benefit from any of that? Not really. At the same time we may have had a few runs more per game.
"I never thought anything would have come like it did. I myself am sorry."
Asked about Fiers, Keuchel called it a "tough subject" because of baseball's tight-knit community in the locker room.
"It sucks to the extent of the clubhouse rule was broken and that's where I'll go with that," Keuchel said. "I don't really have much else to say about Mike."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.