Asked Monday at Yankees spring training in Tampa, Fla. whether he felt "cheated" out of a potential World Series title by the Astros sign-stealing scandal, Masahiro Tanaka was clear.
"Yeah," Tanaka said. "You do feel that way. You do feel that way."
"I don't know if mad is the right word," Tanaka added about it. "It's something that's out of the rule. They're obviously not abiding by the rules, so yeah. That's what I thought."
The Astros took down the Yankees in seven games in the 2017 ALCS before beating the Dodgers to win the first World Series in their history. In the 2019 ALCS, the Astros beat the Yankees in six games before falling to the Nationals in the World Series.
Tanaka lost Game 1 of the 2017 ALCS in Houston, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings, and spun a gem in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees took a 3-2 series lead, tossing 7.0 shutout innings.
During last season's ALCS, Tanaka tossed 6.0 shutout innings in Game 1 in Houston as the Yankees won, and struggled in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium -- allowing four runs in 5.0 innings.
"We were actually being cautious about it, going into the playoff games last year," Tanaka said about the sign-stealing concerns. "Just changing up the signs, making it a little bit more complex and all that. There was a little bit a thought of 'is there something going on?' Once you hear the news, then it's like 'oh, there was something going on.'"
With the Astros having been punished by MLB earlier this offseason before owner Jim Crane reacted by firing manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow for their involvement in the scandal, Tanaka said he's hopeful Houston won't be engaged in illegal sign-stealing going forward.
Tanaka is also excited about the addition of Gerrit Cole, who arrived in Houston in 2018 via trade and emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball during his time there.
"I thought it was awesome," Tanaka said about the Yanks signing Cole. "Definitely huge plus for the team. And I think it'll be a big plus for me as well. Just being able to see a pitcher of that caliber closely. See what he does, how he goes about his stuff. I think I will benefit from that as well."