Rob Manfred on Red Sox investigation: There's no rule against sign-stealing

Red Sox caught stealing signs from Yankees (1:52)

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith break down why the Red Sox are in hot water after the Yankees caught them stealing signs using an Apple watch. (1:52)

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred addressed media at Fenway Park about the ongoing investigation into the Boston Red Sox's use of electronic communication from the dugout to steal opponents' signs and relay them to Boston players during games, as prompted by a complaint filed to Manfred's office by New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman last month.

The full transcript from that portion of the news conference is below:

Manfred's opening statement on the ongoing investigation:

"I’m not going to give interim reports on an ongoing investigation. What I can tell you is this: I take any issue that affects the play of the game on the field extremely seriously. I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective. When you have the kind of rivalry the Red Sox and Yankees have, I guess it's not shocking you could have charges and counter-charges like this. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the charges on both sides. I want to do it quickly. I think it’s important we get it resolved. The only thing I can tell you about repercussions is that there was a violation on either side. And I’m not saying there was, but to the extent there was a violation on either side, we are 100 percent comfortable that it’s not an ongoing issue, that if it happened, it is no longer. I think that’s important from an integrity perspective going forward."

What information have the Red Sox provided?

"All I’m going to say on what the Red Sox have said to us is that -- I’m not going to talk about any aspect of the investigation that’s ongoing. I will say this: The Red Sox have been 100 percent fully cooperative with us in the investigation. Could not have asked for better cooperation than we’ve received from the Boston Red Sox."

Is sign-stealing part of the game, as [Red Sox president of baseball operations] Dave Dombrowski contends?

"We actually do not have a rule against sign-stealing. It has been a part of the game for a very, very long time. To the extent that there was a violation of the rule here, it was a violation by one or the other that involved the use of electronic equipment. It's the electronic equipment that creates the violation. I think the rule against electronic equipment has a number of policy reasons behind it, but one of them is we don't want to escalate attempts to figure out what a pitcher is going to throw by introducing electronics into that mix."

Has this happened before with Sox-Yankees?

"I'm not going to comment on any aspect of the investigation until it's done. Within the game, it's fairly well known that sign-stealing -- put the electronics to one side -- sign-stealing is not an uncommon practice and there is in fact not a rule against it."

Have these investigations happened before?

"Not since I was commissioner, but there have been prior allegations of sign-stealing involving the use of electronic equipment by clubs other than the two involved here."

Does it bother you when teams snipe at each other?

"We would prefer not to have these sorts of issues at all, No. 1. No. 2, to the extent that we have them, we'd prefer to investigate them, deal with them privately, and be done with them. Didn't happen that way. I'm a realist when it comes to these matters, and we're going to deal with what we have."

Dombrowski says GMs usually handle these things among themselves. Is that your preference in these matters?

"I've never been a general manager, but I'm told sign-stealing issues are often resolved by one general manager calling another general manager and saying, 'Hey, I think you're doing X and if you're doing it, you oughta stop doing it,' and that has happened in the past. I don't have firsthand knowledge of that, but people I know, respect, trust have told me that that's the case."

Has the investigation been completed?

"No. All I can do for you there is they're still … it's not just a question of me reviewing what's out there. It's a question of some investigative work still needs to be done. We do not have complete facts, I guess is a good way to say it."

When deciding on a punishment, how much do you take into account raising a deterrent for future incidents like this?

"When I think about punishment, I think you need to think about deterrents. I think you need to think about how the violation has affected the play on the field, and I think you need to think about how it's affected the perception of the game publicly. All of those things are something that you have to weigh in terms of trying to get to appropriate discipline."

Which department is conducting the investigation?

"That's the easiest question of the day: The department of investigations. There is a separate department. A former assistant United States attorney by the name of Bryan Seeley heads the department, and he does any investigation, no matter what the topic is. Whether it's player discipline, whatever, Bryan handles all of those investigative activities."

Have you interviewed Red Sox personnel?

"I'm not going to comment on the content of the investigation."

Is stripping a team of wins one possible form of discipline?

"Wins, look, I would say this: Could it happen? You know, is there the authority to do that? I think the answer to that under the major league constitution is yes. Has it ever happened with this type of allegation? I think the answer is -- I know the answer is -- no. And the reason for that is it's just very hard to know what the actual impact in any particular game was of an alleged violation like this."