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Ex-Astros GM Jeff Luhnow denies hand in sign-stealing scheme

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MLB determined in January that the Houston Astros used banned sign-stealing practices during the 2017 and 2018 regular seasons and during their 2017 World Series run, which resulted in the firing of Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2e7e9ceed06647f8a2107677dcc62d4f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
MLB determined in January that the Houston Astros used banned sign-stealing practices during the 2017 and 2018 regular seasons and during their 2017 World Series run, which resulted in the firing of Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who was fired Jan. 13 in connection to the team's banned sign-stealing tactics, denied involvement in the scheme in his first public comments since his dismissal.

"It's pretty clear who was involved in the video-decoding scheme, when it started, how often it happened and basically when it ended," Luhnow told KPRC Houston on Monday.

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"And it's also pretty clear who was not involved. And I don't know why that information, that evidence, wasn't discussed in the ruling and wasn't used. The people who were involved that didn't leave naturally to go to other teams are all still employed by the Astros."

Luhnow and former Astros manager A.J. Hinch were fired earlier this year after Major League Baseball issued each of them one-season suspensions for their roles in the scheme.

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A league investigation confirmed the Astros used a camera-based system to steal the signs of opposing teams during the 2017 and 2018 regular seasons and en route to a 2017 World Series title.

The Astros also lost four draft picks and were fined $5 million as part of MLB's punishment.

The scheme involved the Astros' usage of a garbage can behind the scenes to relay what type of pitch was on its way to Houston's hitters, which likely helped batters get on base.

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Astros players watched a TV screen inside the team's video replay room at Minute Maid Park in Houston to decipher the signs from the opposing pitcher and catcher.

They then banged on the can with a baseball bat, which could be heard from the field. The batter then knew what type of pitch was on the way to the plate.

The Astros also used a computer software program to decipher opposing teams' signs.

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"I didn't know we were cheating," Luhnow said. "I had no idea. I wasn't involved. Major League Baseball's report stated that I didn't know anything about the trash can banging scheme.

"They stated I might have known something about the video decoding scheme and not paid it much attention. But there was really no credible evidence of that claim.

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"I didn't know. I didn't know about either of them. And it felt like, on that day, that I was getting punished for something that I didn't do. And it didn't feel right."

Luhnow said he was given access to 22,000 text messages from personnel within the Astros video room after he was fired. He said the messages exonerate him from his alleged role in the scheme. Luhnow said the messages also were part of MLB's investigation.

He said he met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred after he received a letter from the league, which detailed the accusations against him from the sign-stealing scheme. The former Astros general manager said he presented Manfred with evidence to counter the claims and also offered to take a lie detector test.

Luhnow said Manfred declined the offer for the lie detector test, and none of the evidence he submitted to the commissioner made its way into the final report.

"He was going to punish me," Luhnow said of Manfred. "There was nowhere else to go. He was going to punish A.J. [Hinch], as well, and A.J. admitted that he knew."

No Astros players have been fined or suspended in connection to the sign-stealing scheme.

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