While MLB's investigation of the Astros only confirmed electronic sign-stealing efforts in 2017, many have pointed to Jose Altuve adamantly insisting that his teammates not rip off his jersey after his ALCS-clinching home run against the Yankees as proof the scheme hadn't stopped.
But in an interview with The Athletic released on Saturday, shortstop Carlos Correa offered a new, albeit puzzling, explanation.
Correa was responding to comments made by reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who blasted Altuve for stealing an MVP from Aaron Judge in 2017, along with pointing to the controversy surrounding his home run off of Aroldis Chapman to send the Astros to the World Series in 2019.
"2019, nobody wore buzzers" Correa said. "That's a lie. The reason José Altuve didn't want to get his shirt ripped off, I'm going to tell you."
Correa echoed what Altuve said in his on-field, postgame interview with FOX, that his wife didn't like when he showed up on television without his shirt on. But what followed was a new wrinkle in the story.
"The second reason - he doesn't want me to talk about this, but I'm going to say it, is because he's got an unfinished tattoo on his collarbone that honestly looked terrible," Correa said. "It was a bad tattoo, and he didn't want nobody to see it. He didn't want to show it at all."
"Altuve has played the game clean," Correa said. "Always. Always. He earned that MVP. He hit that home run off Chapman fair and square. He was not wearing buzzers. That's a story that a fake account on Twitter broke, and then people just got on that wagon and started talking about the buzzers. Like, no. Nobody thought about buzzers. Nobody was using buzzers."
Correa also defended Altuve as one of the few players on the 2017 team who didn't want the signs his teammates had been stealing.
"The few times that the trash can was banged was without his consent, and he would go inside the clubhouse and inside the dugout to whoever was banging the trash can and he would get pissed," Correa said of Altuve. "He would get mad. He would say, 'I don't want this. I can't hit like this. Don't you do that to me.' He played the game clean."