Newsday's Yankees beat writer Erik Boland discussed the latest criticism of the Astros around MLB spring training in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal from the Yankees' facility in Tampa, Florida, on Monday, Feb. 18, 2020. Credit: Newsday / Erik Boland; Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — Mike Trout, generally regarded as the best player in baseball, took his turn Monday in teeing off on the Astros.

Indeed, open season continued on a franchise — not to mention a commissioner — that can’t seem to get out of its own way.

“They cheated,” Trout told reporters at Angels camp in Tempe, Arizona. “I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because guys’ careers have been affected, a lot of people lost jobs. It was tough. Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming — it would be pretty fun up there.”

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner also unloaded, mostly on MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for referring to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal” during a poorly received news conference Sunday in North Port, Florida.

“I don’t know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life,” Turner told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times, on Monday. “Maybe he hasn’t. But the reason every guy’s in this room, the reason every guy is working out all offseason and showing up to camp early and putting in all the time and effort is specifically for that trophy, which, by the way, is called the Commissioner’s Trophy. So for him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point, the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘commissioner’ on it.”

The Yankees’ ire for the most part has focused on the Astros, who beat them in seven games in the 2017 ALCS — one of the seasons, along with 2018, covered in Manfred’s report on the sign-stealing scandal released in January — and in six games in the 2019 ALCS.

Manfred, in his report and again Sunday, stated his belief that the Astros ceased cheating in 2019, an assertion that players and executives across the sport have lampooned.

The face of the Yankees, Aaron Judge, is expected to take his cuts at the Astros when he meets with the media Tuesday after the Yankees’ first full-squad workout of spring training.

But Gleyber Torres, among the more mild-mannered Yankees when it comes to media statements, had his opportunity Monday and took it, all but mocking the notion that Houston quit cheating cold turkey in 2019.

When asked if he believes the Astros cheated during last year’s ALCS, Torres said, “Yeah, for sure. If you cheat in 2017 and you won, why wouldn’t you do it the next year and the next year, too?”

Torres smiled.

“I’ll use an example,” he continued. “If I play video games with you and we face the TV and I see your controller and I know what is coming and I hit really well and I win, if you tell me we play again, I’ll do the same thing because I win. It’s true. So they [the Astros] did [cheat] in ’17 for sure, they did in ’18 and they did in ’19. It’s really easy.”

Torres, still smiling, said he’s done exactly that with one of his teammates.

“When I face like [Luis] Severino, I saw the controller and I did really well and he didn’t know and the next one I did the same thing and I win,” he said.

(New teammate Gerrit Cole, of course, was a member of those 2018-19 Astros teams, although he has not been accused of anything and has said he was unaware of any sign-stealing.)

Torres, who will take over as the full-time shortstop this season with the departure of Didi Gregorius, would not go so far as to say the Yankees would have won last October’s ALCS straight up.

“I don’t want to say they cheated and [therefore] we didn’t go to the World Series,” Torres said. “We lost because we missed too many opportunities when we played at home, when we played in Houston, too. But during the regular season and postseason, they took advantage of the cameras and everything, so for sure I’m [upset] about that.”

That there has been so much player anger expressed through the media at the Astros does not shock Yankees manager Aaron Boone, unprecedented as it may be in baseball history. Rarely do players publicly take the kind of shots at other players that have been a day-to-day occurrence lately.

“I’m not surprised by what we’ve seen,” said Boone, who played 12 years in the majors. “I expect over the next couple of days as our position players are here now, you’ll get some of our guys on the record. I think it’s important for them to say whatever they need to say on the matter. If they want to talk about it or not, I’m respectful of that and encourage that. But there will be a time also as a club when it’ll be time to stop talking about it and lock in on the important business we have in front of us in 2020.”

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