NORTH PORT, Fla. — “Development” is a fine word for movie scripts and young athletes. Less so if it refers to someone investigating you. And that’s where the Red Sox find themselves.
Rob Manfred said Sunday that his office’s look into allegations the champion 2018 Sawx illegally stole signs had lasted longer than he originally anticipated. When the commissioner spoke at the conclusion of the owners’ meetings on Feb. 6, he said he hoped to conclude the investigation by the time camps opened, a deadline he missed.
“There have been a couple of developments in the Boston thing that slowed us down,” Manfred said at CoolToday Park during Grapefruit League Media Day. “… People who had to be reinterviewed as a result of things. … I am still thinking that by the end of next week, we should be done and have a decision out.”
That would be by Feb. 28, Manfred clarified.
The lack of a public whistleblower or damning video footage, two components that immediately put the 2017 Astros in the hottest of water, have led baseball folks to assume that the penalties for the Red Sox will be nowhere as harsh — beyond a lengthy suspension for former manager Alex Cora, who served as the bench coach for the 2017 Astros and led the way in the trash can-banging scheme. These “developments” at the least delay such assumptions from turning into realities.
In other matters:
Manfred said he met with all of the Grapefruit League managers here — there were 13 on site — and discussed, among other matters, new Astros manager Dusty Baker’s public plea that the league ensure his players aren’t repeatedly drilled by pitchers as an unofficial penalty for their sign-stealing.
“I hope that I made it extremely clear to them that retaliation in a game by throwing at a player intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it’s Houston or anyone else,” Manfred said. “It’s dangerous and not helpful to the current situation.”
Progress continues toward a rule that could go so far as to ban players and coaches from the video-replay room during games.
“I do expect that we will for 2020 have really serious restrictions [against] players and player personnel having access to video in-game,” Manfred said.
Regarding the dramatic revision of the postseason that The Post’s Joel Sherman first reported, Manfred offered: “Have we discussed expanded playoffs as an internal manner? Yes, we have. I think in an entertainment environment, as competitive as the one in which we live, if we were not at least talking about that, we probably wouldn’t be doing our job. No decisions have been made on that particular topic, but it certainly has been a topic of conversation internally.”