Yankees manager Joe Girardi offered up a new twist Saturday in the sign-stealing saga between his team and the Blue Jays, suggesting Toronto "could be" using devious means to acquire information from their rivals.
"Signs are coveted," Girardi said. "Anywhere you play in the game you have to protect your signs. Sometimes we have inclinations that things might be happening at certain ballparks and we're aware of it and we try to protect our signs. The last thing you want is the hitter to know what's coming."
New York catcher Russell Martin said Thursday he suspected the Blue Jays were relaying information from second base to the batter during Toronto's 16-7 victory that started with an eight-run outburst in the first inning.
Girardi said Friday he has no problem with players and coaches trying to steal signs, and it's up to the defense to protect them.
At Girardi's instruction, Martin gave pitcher Freddy Garcia multiple signs from the get-go in Friday's game, a 7-1 Toronto win, even with no one on base.
Asked Saturday about the extra level of caution, Girardi suggested the Blue Jays were doing more than peeking in from the basepaths.
"Obviously if you feel it's coming from somewhere else besides a player on the field, I do have issues with that," Girardi said. "There's ballparks that you need to protect your signs. I don't really want to get into it because I'm not 100 percent sure about anything, but we need to protect our signs."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell pointed at Toronto's 21-22 home mark as evidence that there's no funny business going on.
"Honestly, I don't have any idea what (Girardi's) comment would be stemming from," Farrell said. "We play this game to compete and prepare every day and we don't look to any other means than what takes place in between the lines."
Garcia complained after Friday's defeat that the multiple signs kept him from getting into his rhythm, with Martin often coming to the mound to discuss new signals.
"That's why you have to be clever about your signs and you have to be able to change them without having to walk out there," Girardi said. "You have to be able to do that. I had a bunch of different ways I could change signs with never having to go to the mound. But that seems to be the norm now, catchers go to the mound to change signs. We'll continue to talk about it."
Orioles, Hardy agree to 3-year contract — The Baltimore Orioles and shortstop J.J. Hardy agreed to a three-year contract Saturday, a deal that almost certainly assures he won't be going anywhere before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
"That's a big part of the whole contract, that I know I'm going to be here for three years," Hardy said.
The deal cannot be finalized until Hardy passes a physical. He will reportedly receive around $22 million, and the contract includes a partial no-trade clause.
Hardy came to the Orioles last December in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, where he spent one season after a five-year run with Milwaukee. The pending deal means he won't have to sweat out the July 31 trade deadline.
The 28-year-old Hardy hit .275 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs through Friday. He reached base in 42 of his past 47 games, and has also been exceptional in the field. He has only two errors in 63 games and ranks first in majors among shortstops with a .994 fielding percentage.