Morning sports update: Jonathan Lucroy recalled his first-hand experience dealing with Astros’ sign-stealing

"There were times they were on every single pitch and you're like, 'How are they doing this? How is this happening?'"

Jonathan Lucroy practices at Red Sox spring training as Jason Varitek looks on in the background.
Jonathan Lucroy practices at Red Sox spring training as Jason Varitek looks on in the background. –Jim Davis Globe Staff)

The Red Sox begin playing games in 2020 today, facing Northeastern in an exhibition matchup at 1:05 p.m.

The Celtics are in Minnesota for an 8 p.m. tip-off against the Timberwolves.

And the Bruins are in Calgary to face the Flames at 9 p.m.

This weekend, the Boston Pride close out the NWHL regular season with games on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the Pride are in Connecticut (2 p.m.), and will play the Metropolitan Riveters in New Jersey (4:30 p.m.)

Jonathan Lucroy sounds off on the Astros: Newly-signed Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy has some history facing the sign-stealing methods of the Astros. With much of baseball still reacting to the damning details of Houston’s illegal activity, Lucroy — who played against the Astros with the Rangers, Athletics, and Angels for parts of seasons in 2017-2019 — offered some expansive thoughts on the matter:

I knew about that two years ago, it was going on. I know it just recently came out. Everybody in baseball, especially in that division that played against them, we were all aware of the Astros doing those things. It was up to us to outsmart them, I guess you could say, which is kind of hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs. We actively changed signs. Almost every pitch we were changing signs. You had to because they had them. They were relaying them from second. They were stealing from first too, from between your legs. They had a very intricate system going on, we were well aware of it and it was a challenge.

It was a mental challenge to really overcome that. It’s easier said than done. It’s a shame. I’m glad it came out and was brought to light because it needed to. It was getting out of hand. I was in that division for three years on different teams playing against them. There were times they were on every single pitch and you’re like, ‘How are they doing this? How is this happening?’ When we found out we were like, ‘We have to start changing signs up a lot.’ And we did and the swings got worse whenever we tried changing signs up all the time.

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Asked if he thought the Astros took sign-stealing beyond what other teams had done in the past, Lucroy adamantly replied, “One hundred percent.”

“If you’re going out there and your pitcher is on the mound using first sign, or last sign, or second sign, or second sign after two and they are out there getting your pitches that’s your fault,” Lucroy explained. “If they are stealing your signs that is your fault. But if they are out there breaking a complex set of signs with nobody on base, and they’re doing that, there is something wrong with that. That’s not right. There are other teams too that do those things, but like I said as long as you’re changing the signs up and you’re rotating them and you have a system … Us as players we’ve developed these systems over the course of a long time. I have a 1,000 signs in my head we can use and as long as you’re changing those up the guys on second don’t know what is going on. If you’re constantly changing the signs they are going to have a lot of trouble.”

Trivia: What current Celtics player represents Montenegro at the international level?

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(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: He played college basketball in the United States, then played professionally in Europe from 2015-2019 before signing in Boston.

More from Boston.com:

The best power-hitting Red Sox prospect is Bobby Dalbec: In a recent review from MLB.com, infielder Bobby Dalbec was identified as the top power hitter in the Red Sox minor league system. The 24-year-old hit 27 home runs across multiple minor league levels in 2019 with an .816 OPS.

Tacko Fall had strong night in the Red Claws’ 119-100 win on Thursday:

On this day: In 1980, as the youthful American hockey team prepared to play the Soviet Union in the medal round of the Lake Placid Olympics, the world was still reacting to President Jimmy Carter’s announcement from the previous day that the U.S. would boycott the upcoming Summer Olympics in Moscow. The boycott, which immediately became a polarizing issue, was set in motion due to Carter’s insistence on Soviet troops leaving Afghanistan.

One of the interesting historical footnotes to the boycott announcement was a short-lived idea of hosting an alternative Summer Olympics in North America. Boston was identified as a possibility.

“Boston is a potential site for alternative games because of the athletic and housing facilities available at area universities,” wrote Boston Globe reporter Eileen McNamara, citing a press briefing from White House counsel Lloyd Cutler.

Other cities mentioned by Cutler included Los Angeles, Montreal, and Edmonton.

“We are studying the feasibility of doing it in Boston, and among the questions are whether we have the facilities and whether we have enough time to put it together,” said George Regan, a press aide to Boston Mayor Kevin H. White.

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Some in the Boston community were enthusiastic about hosting.

“Holkding the Summer Olympics on short notice would not be more difficult than scheduling a gigantic move-in day for students in the fall,” Tufts University President Jean Mayer told McNamara.

Of course, the reality ended up falling far short of those initially grandiose visions. No formal alternative Olympics was hosted. A track and field event, the “Liberty Bell Classic,” took place in Philadelphia, but it was sparsely attended. Of the 34 U.S. Olympic trial winners, 17 either did not enter, or withdrew (including legendary hurdler Edwin Moses).

A gymnastics competition (the USGF International Invitational) was also hosted in Hartford, but it also failed to generate much interest.

The Olympic dream in Boston would live on, however, only to fail again in much more public and calamitous circumstances. In 2015, the United States Olympic Committee tabbed Boston as its choice for a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Boston 2024” tripped at the first (and subsequent) hurdles, never garnering public support or trust. The USOC-sponsored bid was eventually passed to Los Angeles, who is now set to host the Games in 2028.

Daily highlight: Nick Foligno of the Blues scored an incredible between-the-legs goal against the Flyers on Thursday night.

Just an absolutely insane piece of skill:

Trivia answer: Javonte Green

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