Mariners’ Marco Gonzales speaks candidly about Astros’ cheating

Jan 26, 2020, 1:40 AM | Updated: 1:58 am
Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales...
Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales said revelations about the Astros cheating are no surprise. (Getty)

Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales wasn’t shy in sharing his feelings about the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball when asked about it Thursday by 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore. And maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise considering what Gonzales had to say almost two years earlier about the Boston Red Sox, another team that has been suspected of using technology to steal signs.

“We’ve been pretty positive they’re using some things to get an advantage,” Gonzales said of the Red Sox to 710’s Danny, Dave and Moore in July 2018. “There’s some thought they might be stealing signs. You see it from the dugout, from the first-base coaches. We’re hoping it’s just from the catcher relaying signs and hoping it’s not using video.

“When you feel like it’s not an even playing field… it’s a tough feeling when you feel like something is being taken away from you.”

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The manager of the Red Sox at that time was Alex Cora, who was previously bench coach for the Astros, and Boston went on to win the World Series that year. Cora was fired earlier this month by Boston in the wake of MLB handing down penalties to Houston, which included year-long bans for manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired that same day by the Astros.

Being division rivals of Houston, Gonzales said Thursday that he wasn’t shocked by the revelations about the Astros cheating. In fact, he went so far as to say he went into his starts against Houston prepared for it.

“I would say that the majority of our pregame meetings included how to disguise our signs, what sign sets we were gonna use, how we were gonna switch back and forth,” Gonzales said. “When you play a team over and over again, you get to know the hitters pretty well so you can talk briefly about them, but I would say that Murph (catcher Tom Murphy) and I, (or) me and Omar (former Mariners catcher Omar Narváez) would sit for an extra 10 minutes before every game to figure out, ‘OK, what are we gonna do tonight, and how are we gonna do this, how are we gonna switch back and forth?'”

While Gonzales and his catchers worked to thwart Houston’s sign-stealing system, he is far from ambivalent about what the Astros did.

“I’m mad at the way that they’ve acted throughout the time and the attitudes that they’ve had towards the game,” he said. “Thinking you’re above the game and thinking that it’s OK that you’re taking advantage of other guys, that’s not cool. That’s all I’m mad about.

“I’m also mad for other players who have gone in unprepared who don’t know that this is going on. We’ve known for a long time that this has been going on in our game, it’s a problem, so we’ve tried to prepare ourselves and protect ourselves as best we can, but I’m mad for a lot of other people too.”

As a pitcher whose fastball sits in the high 80s and uses a bevy of secondary pitches, Gonzales is the kind of player who would be especially vulnerable against the Astros’ system, which tipped off Houston hitters to when off-speed pitches were coming. That allowed them to lay off offerings that started on the edges of the strike zone and broke out of it, lengthening at-bats and innings and allowing the Astros to wait things out until they got a favorable pitch to hit.

“I’m a guy that I rely on that chess match, that off-balance, the making pitches, the off-speed pitches, the changing speeds – that’s what I got and that’s when I’ve been working on for however long I’ve thrown a ball,” he said. “So when I feel that’s taken away from me because they know what’s coming, that’s my entire game. I don’t have 98 (mph), I can’t blow it by you if I want, so if you know what’s coming I have nothing to work with. If I have frustration, that’s because I’ve been working my entire life and I don’t want that to be taken away from me.”

While a lot of players have been reticent to weigh in on the scandal, Gonzales said he’s not alone in his feelings.

“I have other pitcher friends in the league who have faced them who are frustrated. They want justice, they want clarity, they want honesty out of everyone. I think there’s a large majority of players in this game who have played with integrity their entire lives and that’s all they want is clarity. We just want to know who we’re up against, what we’re up against and how to be great for ourselves.”

It will certainly be interesting to see how Houston, which won the 2017 World Series and lost to the Washington Nationals in the Fall Classic last season, fares in 2020 after the league cracked down on its video-aided sign-stealing. Gonzales knows the Astros are still a tough team, but he hopes to prove something to them.

“I firmly believe that they’re a very, very talented team, and I don’t think that’s ever been in question,” he said. “I’m not really sure how the reaction’s gonna be to them this year. I’m not really sure. I guess I can just try to beat them. Maybe that’s the best comeback is try to get them all out and try to shut them down. If they don’t know what’s coming, I hope they all are different hitters this year.”

Listen to the full Bob, Dave and Moore interview with Gonzales, who also talked about the upcoming 2020 Mariners season and much more, in the player below or at this link.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Twitter.

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