JUPITER, Fla. — St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Jeff Albert spent a good part of his Wednesday morning talking to reporters at Cardinals spring training camp. He just wasn't talking about his current employer.
The Houston Astros have dominated the headlines this offseason after news of the sign-stealing scandal broke.
Albert was a minor league coordinator for the franchise in 2017, their World Series championship season, and then the big league club's assistant hitting coach in 2018.
Overall, Albert said the cheating scandal was "news to him" just like it was to everyone else.
"I don't feel like I was watching or witnessing anything that was not normal," Albert said.
"In 2017 I'm the minor league coordinator. And in 2018 my experience was not really like kind of a lot of stuff that's coming out in the media now. I did not really experience a lot of conversation with players, staff, anything like that had to do with anything not legal going on there," Albert said.
Albert said he cooperated with the league's investigation, and that he knows why people have questions for him, but that he doesn't really have that much to offer.
"The biggest thing I can say... I spoke to the commissioner's office as part of that process. Trying to basically just to participate there and cooperate as much as possible. It was a pretty short conversation from my perspective. There's really not kind of tons of information from my side," Albert said. "But I understand the interest in the story and association with the team at the time. So I understand there are going to be questions about that."
Albert also said he understands why players and people on staff might have been hesitant to speak up if they knew something against the rules was happening.
"I think that would've been really tough. So I understand whether it's different players. staff members, whoever it may be. I kind of go back to that time and think it would be a tough position to be in," Albert said. "I didn't feel like there were any conversations with staff or players... just looking around I didn't feel like I was watching or witnessing anything out of the ordinary. So that was my kind of experience with my time there in 2018."
When asked if he would've done anything differently if, given the opportunity, Albert echoed his same message.
"I don't think I would've done anything differently in my role. The signs even just in general, especially at that time for me, were not really high on my radar personally. There's enough other things or enough responsibilities I have helping guys getting ready for the game and understanding what's going on and adjusting to the big leagues," Albert said. "So I don't think there would've been something I would've differently, because looking back there was nothing to do differently."
The Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow in response to the investigation, the Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora (who was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017) and the Mets fired Carlos Beltran, the alleged player ring leader of the operation in Houston before he could even start his first camp as the manager in New York.