- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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BALTIMORE -- With an ESPN The Magazine report out Wednesday that said Toronto Blue Jays hitters are being relayed signs from the stands, some speculation has centered on a current or former White Sox player as at least one of the anonymous sources for the story.
The story references four unnamed players saying they have witnessed somebody from the stands in Toronto signaling offspeed pitches to Blue Jays hitters from center field at Rogers Centre. The story talks about a confrontation last season between an opposing bullpen and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.
“We know what you're doing,” the opposing reliever said from the bullpen as Bautista took his position in right field. "If you do it again, I'm going to hit you in the [expletive] head."
It now appears that the angry pitcher was a member of the White Sox.
One White Sox reliever who was asked if there was an issue between the White Sox bullpen and Bautista flashed a coy smile. In the end, while still smiling, he said he couldn’t quite remember if things got loud last season between the bullpen and the player and left for batting practice with a wink.
Later Wednesday, Bautista confirmed to the Toronto media that there was an incident between him and the White Sox’s bullpen last season but denied that he or anybody on the Blue Jays was cheating.
White Sox pitcher John Danks had his own separate confrontation with Bautista earlier this season. After hitting a home run earlier in the series, Bautista slammed his bat to the ground when Danks induced a popup. Taking exception to Bautista’s reaction Danks yelled at him as he ran to first base.
Danks said he has not witnessed anybody relaying signs from the stands to Blue Jays hitters but has said he has heard the cheating rumor for at least two years now. White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle said he has also heard the accusation.
Two former Blue Jays players who now play for the White Sox said they knew nothing about sign stealing from the stands.
“I’ve heard of people talking about it, like many people talking about it, but I have never experienced it or never have seen it happen,” said Alex Rios who played in Toronto from 2004-09. “You always hear rumors about teams doing that but they never are confirmed concretely. It would be like an urban legend.”
Jason Frasor, who was traded to the White Sox at the end of July also denied knowing anything about signs being relayed to his former team’s hitters.
“If there is, they have done an incredible job of keeping it a secret because it was not talked about,” Frasor said. “I saw the headline and saw the report on TV and I don’t know anything about it honestly. Unless it’s a few guys and they have a tight circle … I don’t know.”
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he is not fond of somebody being an anonymous source for a story and was asked what he thought if one of the sources of the ESPN The Magazine story was one of his players.
“I’d be surprised,” Guillen said. “Say it and mean it. As long as you don’t see it and are not 100 percent sure, you can’t be accusing people for that. I don’t think so. You have to be 100 percent sure to say, ‘Listen, this thing is happening here.’ Because when you assume something happens, then you’re not sure what’s going on.
“That’s the one everyone says, they assume [the Blue Jays] have the signs. That’s what I read and see on TV. Assuming don’t mean anything. You have to be 100 percent sure and see what happens.”
The Sox appear to have confronted Jays' Bautista about signaling pitches.