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Tigers’ Justin Verlander brings up question of stolen signs after Indians’ rout Saturday night

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 16, 2017

The topic of sign stealing has again followed the Indians following a poor start of a Cy Young-level opposing pitcher.

In October, the Boston Red Sox and starting pitcher Rick Porcello began to switch up their signs due to a belief that the Indians might have figured out their signs following Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

And on Saturday, following the Indians’ 13-6 win against the Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander brought up similar questions. Verlander stopped short of accusing the Indians of stealing signs but did say the Tigers were using multiple signs just in case.

“We’re not the only team that does that against these guys,” Verlander said of the Indians, per the Associated Press. “I think it’s kind of one of those things that you just cover your bases, make sure you’re not allowing anybody to do anything. If they are, who knows, you never know, it might just be one of those things to appease the mind. I know we aren’t the first ones, I know we’re not the only team to accuse them of doing it. I don’t even know if we did accuse them, it’s just kind of one of those … I guess when you do go to multiple signs with nobody on, you say ‘Hey, that’s a little fishy.’ But you never know.”

It’s part of the chess match teams have to play with one another to ensure their proverbial code books aren’t being deciphered. It could also be a simple case of head games. Or, it could simply be pitchers looking for answers as to why something happened.

“I think in our game, it’s probably human nature [to be concerned about that],” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I hear our guys, too. You hear all the stories. I heard them all in Boston, how the guys in the bullpen were always giving signs. Once we found that out, we’d line them up out there and they’d all do different stuff just to aggravate the other teams. I’ve heard about the guy in Toronto up in center field for years. [Josh] Beckett swore he was up there.”

“Again, the object of the game is to have your guys know the signs and have the other team not. With all the technology, that can get more difficult, just like a lot of other stuff. But I can tell you, with a fair amount of certainty, I’m just happy when guys get our signs. And I’m being serious about that.”

Regardless, it’s something to which at least two teams have expressed concerns. Verlander and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, per MLB.com, on Sunday morning began looking at film to see if he was tipping pitches. Regardless of the reason, the Indians seem to have gotten a couple teams thinking.

“Every team, it's so hard to know fully what's really going on and what's not,” Francona said. “Usually, if you do what you're supposed to—like Verlander left some pitches up yesterday. If he doesn't do that, we're probably not having this conversation.”

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