Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts defended the team’s recent hiring of former Red Sox video replay coordinator J.T. Watkins, who served a year-long suspension for his role in Boston’s 2018 sign-stealing scandal.
With the Dodgers seeking a hitting coach, Betts and newcomer J.D. Martinez both recommended Watkins for the role. The Red Sox employed all three during their 2018 championship season that MLB investigated for cheating.
Betts said “everybody” was aware of the use of video to steal signs in 2018, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The former MVP added that Boston used the scheme infrequently, but he couldn’t recall specifics.
“It’s kind of hard to remember. … People are trying to make it like we’re cheating. Give us credit,” Betts said. “We had a good team. Give us some credit. We had Cy Young winners. We had MVPs. We had Gold Glove winners. We had Silver Sluggers. We had all that. Take that into account.”
MLB’s investigation into the matter concluded that the Red Sox employed an illegal sign-stealing program in the regular season but called it “far more limited in scope and impact,” than the Houston Astros’ 2017 scheme.
The commissioner’s office noted in its findings that “the information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base.”
“There needs to be a clear distinction between what the Astros did and what everyone else did,” Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said.
MLB docked the Red Sox a second-round pick in 2020 and suspended Watkins over the scheme. It didn’t suspend any other personnel. While manager Alex Cora was also suspended, it was for his role in the Astros’ scandal.
Betts, who described Watkins as a “very good buddy,” joined the Dodgers via trade prior to the 2020 campaign. The six-time All-Star and L.A. agreed to a record 12-year, $365-million extension midseason that year.
Martinez, a five-time All-Star, was also an integral member of the 2018 Red Sox, finishing fourth in MVP voting that season. The three-time Silver Slugger joined the Dodgers this year on a one-year, $10-million deal.
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