Cubs' Ben Zobrist laughs off sign-stealing accusations from Dodgers

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist laughed off sign-stealing accusations by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, while Dodgers managerDave Robertssimply called it part of the game.

"I think it's hilarious," Zobrist said Monday afternoon. "No, I was not stealing signs. But I appreciate him thinking my baseball IQ is that high. ... I don't know what he was looking at or what he thought he saw. But really, from second base at Wrigley, it's very tough to even see the signs. It's so dark. All the lights are behind the hitter. ... But I think all catchers are probably a little paranoid about that."

Grandal agreed, saying he is indeed "paranoid" about baserunners stealing signs. He thought Zobrist was relaying them from second base in Game 1 on Saturday while Addison Russell was at the plate. So the Dodgers switched the signs.

"All the sudden, Russell is not taking good swings at sliders, looking like he's looking for a fastball and in a certain location," Grandal told the LA Times over the weekend. "Did we know Zobrist had the signs and was doing something for it? Yeah, we did. That's why we do it."

Roberts didn't seem fazed by the notion that an opponent would attempt to steal signs.

"I think when you watch baseball games, every team's going to try to get any advantage they can, so that's kind of the gamesmanship part of the game," Roberts said.

"That's why catchers or guys on second base give multiple signs and change sequences. So if they are (stealing signs), it wouldn't be a surprise, and there's many clubs that we've played against that do the same thing. That's part of the game."

Zobrist continued to deny the charge even while admitting he's attempted to steal signs in the past -- just not the very recent past.

"I've tried before, but it's never worked out," Zobrist said.

"I'm, like, trying to read them from back there. But it's just never worked out. ... And that's the thing: You don't want to relay it to the hitter if you're not positive. Half the time I'm not even looking because you're not ready. I'm looking at the sign from the third-base coach. I'm trying to pick up to where I'm trying to see the ball off the bat to where I'm getting a good jump, stuff like that. So even when I do feel like I have time to look at it and see if I can catch up with the sequence, I don't. Half the time, I have trouble following our own pitcher's sequence."

The Cubs and Dodgers resume the NLCS on Tuesday night. The series is tied 1-1.