SAN DIEGO -- The MLB commissioner's office has interviewed more than 50 witnesses and reviewed more than 70,000 emails and additional messages as it looks into the Houston Astros' high-tech sign-stealing scheme.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said the initial round has created the need for follow-up interviews, which will push the investigation into next year.
He said last month at the owners meetings in Arlington that he hoped to report his findings before spring training.
"I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the commissioner's office has ever undertaken," Manfred said. "I think we've interviewed already nearly 60 witnesses, 76,000 e-mails, a whole additional trove of instant messages. That review has caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing.
"It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it's really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take."
Allegations of the Astros using video to steal catchers' signs were made last month in a story by The Athletic in which former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers confirmed a scheme that was used in 2017. The Astros haven't challenged the accusations.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch declined to comment on the allegations earlier this week at the winter meetings. Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward was the third-base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 when they lost the World Series to the Astros.
He said that Dodgers suspected the Astros were stealing signs, though in the old-school way of doing it on the field.
"We knew the Astros were good at decoding things, so we tried to be as proactive as we could going into every World Series (game)," Woodward said. "I told our team in Texas the same things.
"As far as crossing the line, we didn't know if they were doing anything illegally. But, yeah."
Manfred declined to suggest how he might punish the Astros, general manager Jeff Luhnow and Hinch. The expectation is the penalties will be severe.
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