Francona laughs off sign-stealing talk

Francona laughs off sign-stealing talk

CLEVELAND -- First, Indians manager Terry Francona offered a puzzled look. Then, Francona laughed. The idea that Cleveland was stealing signs in Game 1 of the American League Division Series was more amusing than anything else to the manager on Friday.

"We barely know our own signs," Francona quipped before Game 2 of the ALDS vs. the Red Sox.

In the wake of Cleveland's 5-4 victory in Game 1 on Thursday, one report out of Boston indicated that there may have been concerns about the Indians stealing signs. Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon noted that he and starter Rick Porcello switched up their signs at some point after the Tribe struck for three solo home runs off the pitcher in the the third inning.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CLE 5, BOS 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 7 CLE 6, BOS 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 CLE 4, BOS 3 video

Typically, teams accused of sign stealing do so with a runner on second base, but only one of Cleveland's hits -- a second-inning RBI single by Lonnie Chisenhall -- came under those circumstances on Thursday. Unless Boston felt someone in the Tribe's center-field bullpen was signaling to the batter, it was likely just a case of errant pitches on the part of Porcello.

That was the explanation that Red Sox manager John Farrell gave during his news conference prior to Game 2 on Friday.

"Those pitches were mislocated pitches. They're good hitters," Farrell said. "We made pitches up in the strike zone and paid for it, particularly on a night where the ball carried as it did last night. But I think inside of any game, if you don't have the ability to change signs, you know what? You're probably a step or two behind.

"So there's no accusation of any kind. It's a matter of us going out and executing more consistently."

This is not the first time that the Indians have been hit with this type of criticism.

During a Sept. 17 game against the Tigers, pitcher Justin Verlander and his catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, looked like they were having trouble getting on the same page. The explanation after the game by the duo was that they were just trying to be more careful with their signs while playing in Cleveland. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus echoed that sentiment.

"We're careful about signs here," Ausmus said after the 1-0 loss to the Indians last month. "There's no accusation or anything. We're just careful with the signs here."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.