TORONTO – Dave Hudgens’ status as Toronto Blue Jays bench coach appears unaffected by Major League Baseball’s discipline of the Houston Astros for electronic sign-stealing, the fallout of which widened Thursday to claim New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran.
The well-respected Hudgens, 63, joined the Blue Jays last season after four years as hitting coach for the Astros, including the tainted 2017 campaign that led to commissioner Rob Manfred to ban GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a season, strip the club of four draft picks and issue a $5-million fine.
Luhnow and Hinch were subsequently fired while Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the former Astros’ bench coach described as a ringleader of the sign-stealing plot in MLB’s report, parted with the club Wednesday. Beltran, depicted as another plot organizer, split with the Mets on Thursday before he managed even a single game with the club.
As things stand now, Hudgens, who was not named in the report and co-operated fully with the league’s probe, is on firm ground.
"As I said Dec. 27, the date we had the (Hyun-Jin) Ryu news conference, Dave Hudgens was a member of the Houston Astros and participated 100 per cent with the investigations (by Major League Baseball)," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said in an interview Wednesday. "We’re glad he’s here as a Toronto Blue Jay."
When asked if the commissioner’s ruling had any impact on his status or the way the Blue Jays’ view his future, Atkins replied: "I can’t comment further on the investigations that potentially may be ongoing or not."
Major League Baseball continues to investigate the Red Sox, who are accused of electronic sign stealing during their World Series championship 2018 season under Cora, which likely prompted Atkins’ slight equivocation. But given the depth of detail into the Astros’ actions in the initial report and the lack of mentions for Hudgens, it seems he’ll avoid discipline.
Meanwhile, the scandal continues to expand in the wake of Beltran’s split with the Mets, and a question now is how deep Major League Baseball, its executives and its players will dig into the countless skeletons buried in the game’s closet.
There is growing anger at the extent of the Astros’ cheating, but some are also reluctant to cast stones lest their own actions be examined. The resulting reckoning has the potential to spread as far and as deep as the sport’s steroid scandal at the beginning of the century.