The Tigers are not very pleased with the Royals these days. After a series in which the Royals took two of three from the disappointing Tigers, and manager Brad Ausmus questioned whether Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto was delivering the ball illegally, catcher James McCann has accused Royals right-fielder Alex Rios of stealing signs.
McCann said the sign-stealing happened in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's game with the Royals down 7-4. Rios was hit by a pitch and advanced to second, where he allegedly took a peek.
After last night's loss in Houston, McCann had this to say.
"Was he doing it? I have my suspicions," McCann said. "No one will ever know except for him. But I do know he wasn't able to relay them beyond that trip to the mound."
McCann's suspicions prompted the rookie catcher to make an abrupt mound visit with Royals catcher Drew Butera at the plate. McCann walked past Rondon and briefly stared at Rios before turning around to discuss strategy with Rondon.
"I just stared at him. Not knowing if he was really doing it or not," said McCann, who didn't directly accuse Rios of stealing signs. "But my job is to make sure it didn't continue if it was happening."
With a runner at second, catchers typically give a sequence of signs so the runner at second base cannot easily tell which pitch is coming and signal the hitter. The runner has a clear view of the catcher's signals, so its unclear what Rios was doing that a runner at second normally doesn't do.
In any case, it is just the latest evidence the Royals have a target on their back and are not particularly well-liked around the league. Just a few weeks ago, the Royals accused the Blue Jays of stealing signs and engaged in a bench-clearing confrontation after Aaron Sanchez plunked Alcides Escobar intentionally.