Mets OF/IF J.D. Davis, who was on the Astros in 2017 and 2018, spoke candidly on Friday about his role in the sign-stealing scandal and backtracked from comments he made on the matter earlier this offseason.
"Back in December we had that same question, and I spoke a little bit prematurely," Davis said, alluding to comments he made suggesting he wasn't aware of what was going on in Houston. "I spoke before the MLB or during the investigation. And so again, I was a rookie and I was going up and down the system and I was fighting for my life. MLB called and I cooperated with them. I made my statements. Again, back to the December comment and the interview -- I spoke prematurely."
Asked if he was "embarrassed" by his role, Davis called it a fair question.
"I think not only the fans want the game to be fair. I know you guys want it to be fair as well. You want to cover a game where it's fair to everybody. Again, to the peers as well. And of course, everybody that's part of the 2017 Astros, they feel regrettable about that decision. Looking back, as a young guy being exposed to that in 2017 and looking back now and getting a full season under my belt, of course it's regrettable. You feel ashamed (to be) a part of it. I've learned what not to do and I've applied it to the 2019 season having a breakout. Again, learning from it and getting ready for the 2020 season with these guys."
When Davis was part of the scandal, he was a rookie getting his first taste of the bigs, coming into a clubhouse that had already hatched an elaborate scheme to steal signs using a camera in center field that were relayed to the video room near the dugout, where a trash can nearby would be banged to signal to hitters which pitch was coming.
"Obviously as a 24-year-old at the time I was pretty starstruck with the whole thing of being around some of the veteran guys, being in a big league clubhouse," Davis explained. "Just growing up there through the system. And again, what I've applied as the years (have gone by) and I applied last year. And again, having a breakout season last year and I'm trying to learn from the failures and the success and apply it to this 2020 season. And I'm excited."
While Davis was aware of the sign-stealing situation, the Astros' clubhouse was the first big league one he had ever been a part of, with his explaining that he wasn't sure if what they were doing was the norm throughout baseball.
"Didn't really think much of it going up there fresh, new, being part of the major league clubhouse, among major league guys," Davis said. "Maybe what they did was the norm. I have no idea. I had never been in another big league clubhouse to compare the two. Looking back at the situation, the details of it. It's terrible. It's terrible for the game of baseball."
On the broader impact the scandal had on baseball, Davis reiterated that it was "terrible."
"Baseball took a couple steps backward because of these events and the investigations that applied to it," he said. "Anybody that gets crowned World Series champion, it's not only a big deal but it's a big deal for the baseball world for how they've earned it and gone through 162 games and through the playoffs and everything. To have the incident is very unfortunate for the game of baseball."
Davis said that he saw a little bit of the apologies the Astros gave on Thursday, crediting Carlos Correa with "coming out and owning it."
Correa was one of the only Astros who seemed appropriately apologetic for the situation, and also came to the defense of former Mets manager Carlos Beltran. Still, it can be argued that Davis -- who was a bit player on the Astros in 2017 and 2018 -- has been the most candid and remorseful member of the 2017 Astros so far.
Asked what he regretted specifically, Davis cited being a part of the situation and not being clear about his involvement a few months ago.
"Baseball and the situation of being a part of it," he said. "What I said before early in the questions, I spoke prematurely. I was aware of it. In the big sample size, again what I said before, whoever gets crowned World Series champion has to earn it. It's unfair to the peers, it's unfair to the fans, it's unfair to you guys -- the writers -- as well."
Adding that he's probably worn his World Series ring from that season "once or twice," Davis said he wasn't sure if the Astros would've won it all had it not been for the scheme.
"That I do not now," he said. "They're a pretty talented team. That's a pretty big 'if' question. I really don't know. Their up-and-down the lineup is pretty good and their pitching staff at that time was incredible."
Expected to be the Mets' starting left fielder in 2020 after a breakout campaign in Queens 2019, Davis will now try to put this all behind him.