Shildt: Astros’ penalties a ‘healthy purge’ amid ‘understandable murkiness’

St. Louis' Mike Shildt was among the Grapefruit League managers who met with Commissioner Rob Manfred on Sunday.
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JUPITER, Fla. — St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt described technology’s rapid encroachment on baseball in recent years as ethically murky, expressing his satisfaction in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s intention to cut down the use of in-game video.

“I feel like what’s happened recently is a healthy purge,” Shildt said. “The sign-stealing stuff has been talked about, alluded to, for several years now.”

Shildt and other Grapefruit League managers met with Manfred on Sunday evening in North Port. As expected, the commissioner addressed in-game use of technology, specifically video, to gain an advantage.

“There was some murkiness — understandable murkiness, not to make any excuses for anybody, some understandable murkiness — about where the lines were,” Shildt said. “The lines have been drawn on the field for 150 years, so we have that resource of what that competition looks like on the field, but technology is moving fast in every facet of our life, and we’re all affected by it.”

Entering his second full season as St. Louis manager, Shildt made his comments as the NL Central champions took to the field for the first full-team workout.

“By nature it’s going to be reactive,” Shildt said. “The last several years there’s been pretty clear communication from the commissioner’s office about what and how we expect to play.”

Shildt said technological advances over the past seven years are probably greater than those in the first 140 years of professional baseball.

“The line of off-the-field integrity was just a little blurred because there were so many things out there happening in real time, happening fast,” Shildt said. “The commissioner’s been really clear and his office has been really clear about what that looks like and creating a clear line, so now the purge I alluded to, it’s out there.”

Manfred last month suspended Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season each, fined the Astros $5 million and stripped the team of its first- and second-round draft choices for each of the next two seasons. Houston then fired Hinch and Luhnow.

“It’s not my responsibility to say whether the punishment was just or unjust,” Shildt said. “I thought it was really clear. It’s a purge for now.”