Russell Martin: Jays were stealing signs

Updated: July 16, 2011, 10:19 AM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin isn't mad at the Toronto Blue Jays for stealing signs. He's upset with himself for not noticing sooner.

Martin claimed the Blue Jays were relaying information from second base to the batter during Toronto's 16-7 victory Thursday night that started off with an eight-run outburst in the first inning.

"You move your head one way it's a fastball, you move your head the other way it's a slider," Martin said after the game. "It was pretty blatant."

"It's just an easier game when you know what's coming," he added.

But before Friday's game, Martin made it clear he didn't consider Toronto's behavior to be out of bounds.

"I was more angry at myself for figuring it out too late," he said. "There's a reason you give multiple signs."

Martin said it was the fourth inning Thursday when he switched signs with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista on second base at Aaron Hill at the plate. Hill's at-bat ended with a swinging strikeout.

"It's a part of the game and it's a fun part of the game, too," Martin said.

Hill, who Martin said was involved in the tactics, basically admitted they were doing it.

"Obviously, they are going to do something about it whether it is changing up signs or whatever it may be," Hill said. "We have had that issue in the past, it is what it is.

"When our pitchers are on the mound and there is a guy on second, we make sure that our pitchers do a good job and that is what they have their meetings for. Everybody has their sequence that they like to do so it doesn't get relayed if a team does that or certain players do that. I know we are prepared for it. Sometimes you have to keep switching it up."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a catcher in his playing days, agreed with Martin that the onus is on the defense to protect signs from being stolen.

"It's studying your opponent is what it is," Girardi said. "To me, it's not cheating because you're studying something. You're looking for signs. Signs can be tipped a lot of different ways. It doesn't just have to come from the fingers the guy puts down. Guys have found how pitchers tip pitches forever. Is that cheating? If you know it, are you not going to use it?"

"I think if it's coming from the bullpen or someone's got binoculars or it comes from the stands, that's out of bounds," Girardi added. "But if it's the players and the competitiveness of the players, that's in bounds to me."

Girardi said the catcher's vantage point is the best place to notice any unusual behavior in the batter's box.

"You watch some of the swings that clubs are taking," he said. "Are they fooled on any of the pitches? Are they bailing when you're throwing the ball in? There's a lot of things that you watch for."

So, did the Yankees skipper notice signs being relayed on Thursday?

"I'm not going to comment on that but believe me, we pay attention to it," Girardi said.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell, a former pitcher, claimed to be "unaware" of the Blue Jays stealing signs.

"That's something that's part of the game and why we spend a lot of time in spring training making sure there are multiple sets of signs," Farrell said. "If that's something that's sensed between the lines, you've got to be equipped to handle what you might perceive taking place."

Girardi said he's conscious of Toronto trying to steal signs, but only because they're a familiar opponent in the AL East.

"A lot of times, when you see teams more, and we see these guys 18 times, they're more familiar with you, you're more familiar with them and you pay close attention," he said.

That's why, Girardi suggested, the topic likely came up in New York's pregame meetings.

"I tell our guys what to do and how we have to prepare when we go into different series and things to watch for," he said.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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