HOUSTON — Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow on Wednesday made his first public comments on the public relations firestorm that has engulfed his team.
The Astros came out forcefully against a Sports Illustrated story posted online late Monday, which the team, in a since discredited statement, called “fabricated” among other things. The story alleged questionable behavior on the part of an assistant general manager.
According to the SI story, which was corroborated by several competing outlets, the executive, Brandon Taubman, who attended Syosset High School, “turned to a group of three female reporters, including one wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, and yelled half a dozen times, ‘Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!’” during the Astros’ postgame celebration after eliminating the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS.
He was referring to closer Roberto Osuna, whom the Astros traded for while he was serving a 75-game suspension in 2018 for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.
During an appearance on the club’s flagship radio station Wednesday, Luhnow, who did not make himself available on Tuesday before Game 1 of the World Series or before Game 2 Wednesday night, fielded one question about the incident.
“Brandon has apologized for inappropriate behavior and I think, from my perspective, clearly something happened that he regrets,” Luhnow said on SportsTalk790, according to the Houston Chronicle. “What we really don’t know is the intent behind the inappropriate comments he made. We may never know that because the person who said them and the people who heard them, at least up to this point, have different perspectives.”
Luhnow added: “We want anybody who interacts with our organization to feel comfortable and to feel respected. Clearly that was not the case in the celebration after the Yankees victory. We can do better and we will do better …. I do apologize. This situation should have never happened.”
The Astros made a complete turn from their initial claim the story was “misleading and completely irresponsible,” with Taubman offering a statement that concluded with “I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions,” and owner Jim Crane saying in his statement “we fully support MLB and baseball’s stance and values regarding domestic violence,” but not addressing his employee’s conduct. The team has not yet apologized to the reporter for initially using the word "fabricate" in attempting to shoot down the story Monday night. MLB has said it is investigating the incident.
It was left again Wednesday to manager AJ Hinch, as was the case Tuesday when he called the incident “unfortunate” and “uncalled for,” to douse the flames the organization overall hasn’t extinguished.
“I feel responsible for everything that goes on down here, I consider myself a leader,” Hinch said before Game 2. “So I felt like it was important for me to be visible and to give you my thoughts on a very important topic surrounding our clubhouse.”