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OC Register: Angels’ Andrew Heaney unloads on Astros in wake of sign-stealing reports

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TEMPE, Ariz. >> Andrew Heaney, who will always be among the league leaders in honesty, unleashed a torrent of emotions on the Houston Astros on Wednesday morning.

The revelations from the past winter about electronic sign stealing used by the Astros didn’t sit well with the Angels’ left-hander.

“I am not going to make excuses for those guys,” Heaney said before the Angels first official workout of the spring. “I know how it is. You get caught up in something. I’m sure they look back now and say ‘Oh (expletive) ,we really took that overboard.’

“But I think that somebody in that locker room had to have enough insight to say ‘This is not OK.’…  Somebody in that locker room had to say, ‘This is (messed) up. We shouldn’t be doing this.’ For nobody to stand up and nobody to say, ‘We’re cheating other players,’ that sucks. That’s a (expletive) feeling for everybody. I hope they feel like (expletive).”

Heaney, in fact, needed only to look to the other side of the room to find one of them.

Max Stassi, who was acquired by the Angels last July, had been up and down with the Astros since 2013. The catcher was back in the majors from mid-August  2017 to the end of the season, during which the Astros were reportedly at the peak of their sign-stealing.

Stassi said he was too inexperienced in his big league career to do anything to stop the practice.

“I saw what was going on,” he said. “When you’re a lower man on the totem pole, you just show up and you go out there and play. I apologize to all those around the game, the people who were affected by it, the fans, coaches. Especially the kids who look up to us. We’re supposed to set an example and do the right thing. We didn’t do that.”

Stassi added: “It was wrong. I feel terrible. I think that looking back, that every single person that was part of that team, or in that clubhouse, regrets what was going on. If we could all go back, I’m sure they’d never even thought of the idea.”

Stassi was up for the entire 2018 season and the first four months of 2019, before he was traded. He said he “didn’t see anything going on past 2017.”

Heaney isn’t so sure.

“I still don’t think we really know everything that happened,” Heaney said. “I don’t think necessarily everybody wants us to know everything that was going on. That’s the tough part.”

Heaney didn’t even pitch in Houston in 2017, because he missed most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He has only pitched three times in Houston since then, with a 5.14 ERA. That’s too small of a sample to infer much. His overall ERA in the past two seasons is 4.41.

Heaney said it was a “poorly kept secret” that the Astros had been stealing signs. There were times that he was suspicious, but it was more when there were runners on second base.

“I would go back and look at video and say ‘Am I doing something in my glove? Am I showing anything?’” Heaney said. “I can’t say if they are banging on an (expletive) trash can or not. I don’t know. I am not paying attention to that. I am not going to sit here and say I feel victimized. I’m not going to make that excuse. I think it’s part of your job to cover that up, and be on top of it. But it’s not your responsibility to make sure teams aren’t stealing your (expletive) illegally.”

The Angels are now set to open the 2020 season in Houston, giving them the first opportunity to take on the team that seems be universally reviled in baseball.

Asked if he thinks baseball, and specifically the Astros, will be free of such sign-stealing now, Heaney shrugged.

“I think they still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “Personally, I think they’re trying to, but we’ll see what’s going on with the video and in-game stuff and see how that gets sorted out. Because I think that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

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