The Boston Red Sox have reportedly admitted to Major League Baseball that they improperly used electronic devices to steal signs from their longtime rival New York Yankees.
The Red Sox used an Apple Watch to relay signs by the Yankees catchers during a series last month at Fenway Park, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Investigators reportedly determined that the first-place Red Sox used the gadget in a "scheme to illicitly steal hand signals from opponents' catchers in games against the second-place Yankees and other teams, according to several people briefed on the matter," the Times wrote.
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"I'm aware of the rule," Red Sox manager John Farrell said when asked about the report. "Electronic devices are not to be used in the dugout. Beyond that, all I can say is it's a league matter at this point."
Yankees GM Brian Cashman reportedly filed the complaint to the office of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, including video the Yankees shot of the Red Sox dugout during an August series at Fenway Park.
The video reportedly shows Red Sox assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim looking at his Apple watch and passing information to outfielder Brock Holt and injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was in uniform.
The Red Sox, in turn, filed a complaint claiming the Yankees used cameras from YES, the team's television network, to steal signs during games.
Sign stealing is allowed in baseball, but electronic assistance is prohibited.
"I think sign stealing's been going on in baseball for a long time," Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said on Tuesday. "I've been in the game for 40 years, I've known of it for 40 years."
"Do I think sign stealing is wrong? No. I guess it depends how you do it, but no, I've never thought it's wrong," he said. "People are trying to win however they can. It's an edge they try to gain. So no, I've never felt it was wrong."
Manfred, who happened to be visiting Fenway on Tuesday, said his office will conduct "a thorough investigation" of the charges on both sides. If a violation is found, he added, "we are 100 percent comfortable that it is not an ongoing issue."
"The Red Sox have been 100 percent fully cooperative with us in the investigation," Manfred said.
He stressed that there is not a rule against sign stealing, so if the rule were violated it would have been for using electronic equipment.
Asked whether the MLB could penalize the Red Sox by taking wins away, Manfred suggested such a punishment was unlikely.
"Could it happen? You know, is there the authority to do that? I think the answer to that, under the major league constitution, is yes. Has it ever happened with this type of allegation? I think the answer is — I know the answer is no," Manfred said. "And the reason for that is it's just very hard to know what the actual impact on any particular game was of an alleged violation."
The Yankees trail the Red Sox by 2.5 games in the AL East, but have a three-game lead for the top wild card slot.