TAMPA — Typically, spring training is a time for looking ahead at the upcoming season, not going back more than two years.
But these are not ordinary times for baseball, and on Friday, right-hander Chad Green became the latest Yankee to speak publicly about the sign-stealing scandal that has tainted the Astros’ 2017 World Series title — and possibly ended the Yankees’ 2017 season prematurely.
“My initial reaction was just frustration, I guess,’’ Green said.
Asked if he was angry that MLB’s investigation found the Astros guilty of electronically stealing signs at Minute Maid Park during their 2017 postseason run, Green remained level-headed.
“I think that’s the initial reaction,’’ Green said outside the Yankees’ minor league complex. “Anybody is gonna be upset about it a little bit. But you move forward.”
It likely won’t be that simple. Certainly not for Houston and even for the Yankees, who will no doubt be asked throughout spring training and into the regular season about losing in the ALCS to the Astros.
So far, though, Green said the topic of the Astros’ cheating hasn’t come up much in his first few days in camp. That is sure to change — throughout the majors — when camps open next week.
“We haven’t honestly talked about it too much, just being around for a few days,’’ Green said. “I think everyone is moving forward. It’s kind of in the past for the most part. I’m sure the conversation is gonna get brought up again at some point. We’ll see what happens.’’
For his part, Green was highly effective in two appearances in Houston during the 2017 ALCS. In Games 1 and 6 combined, Green threw 4¹/₃ shutout innings and allowed just two hits and a walk, while striking out five.
Perhaps because of that success, Green said he hadn’t gone back and looked at whether he thought Astros’ hitters knew what pitches were coming.
“I didn’t actually throw that bad there in ’17, which is kind of weird,’’ Green said. “I didn’t pitch too well there [last] year, though.”
Green gave up three runs in the first inning as the opener in Game 6 of the ALCS.
The next challenge will be facing the Astros this season, with several of the culprits from 2017 still on the roster, even if manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were first suspended by MLB, then fired by owner Jim Crane.
Players were granted immunity by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during the investigation in order to get them to be truthful about the cheating strategy.
That may have benefited the investigation, but it will no doubt make for some contentious meetings between pitchers and batters this season.
“It’s obviously gonna be tough,’’ Green said. “Knowing what could have been in ’17. It’s a tough game to play, what could have been or what should have happened. I’ll probably wait and see what our reaction and their reaction will be.’’
Green’s now-retired former teammate CC Sabathia said earlier this offseason that the Yankees would have won the World Series in 2017 were it not for the Astros’ cheating. Green liked the Yankees’ chances, but didn’t go quite as far.
“I thought we were on a good run,’’ Green said. “I thought we were playing really well. It’s unfortunate all that happened.”