FORT MYERS, Fla. – Marwin Gonzalez acknowledged Tuesday that he participated in the sign-stealing scandal during the Houston Astros’ World Series-winning season of 2017.

The 30-year-old utilityman, who played seven seasons in Houston, signed a two-year contract with the Twins before last season.

“I’m remorseful for everything that happened in 2017, for everything that we did as a group, and for the players that were affected directly by us doing this,” Gonzalez said Tuesday, a day before Twins pitchers and catchers report to camp.

The Astros used a system of video sign stealing that involved players banging on garbage cans to let teammates at the plate know what pitch was coming.

Major League Baseball did not take away Houston’s title, but suspended Manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow, who were then fired by owner Jim Crane.

Alex Cora, a coach with Astros in 2017, managed Boston to the 2018 World Series title. The Red Sox are under investigation for a similar sign stealing scheme, and Cora has already been fired. The Mets have also parted ways, after only two months, with their new manager, Carlos Beltran, who played for Houston in 2017.

Gonzalez had his best season with Houston in 2017, hitting .303 with 23 home runs and driving in 90 runs. His batting average dropped to .247 in 2018 before the Twins signed him as a free agent.

Last season, Gonzalez hit .264 with 15 home runs, but was limited to 114 games because of injuries.

The native Venezuelan is the first position player from the team to issue a formal apology.

Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton, who was the winning pitcher for Houston in Game 7 of both the American League Championship Series and the World Series in 2017, said last week he regrets not doing anything to try to stop the scheme.

MARINERS: The Mariners agreed to a minor league contract with former All-Star Carlos Gonzalez, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

Gonzalez’s deal is pending a successful physical, the person told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. If added to the 40-man roster, Gonzalez would get a one-year contract with a $750,000 salary in the major leagues.

Gonzalez was an All-Star in 2012-13 and 2016 with the Rockies. The 34-year-old played with the Rockies through 2018 when he hit .276 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs in 132 games for Colorado.

Last season, Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with Cleveland and was called up by the Indians in mid-April. He appeared in 30 games, then was cut.
Gonzalez latched on with the Cubs, lasted just 15 games and was released in late June. He batted .200 in 145 plate appearances and did not play during the final three months of the season.

PHILLIES: Manager Joe Girardi wants to have a healthy team down the stretch this year and says he will be diligent in making sure his players aren’t overworked early in the season.

“I take it personal when a guy gets hurt,” Girardi said. “I think there is enough talent to win.”

The Phillies dealt with a variety of injuries last year, including left fielder Andrew McCutchen missing the final four months of the season with a torn ACL. Reliever David Robertson missed most of 2019 after Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss a large portion of this season, too.

Expect the Phillies to go slow with McCutchen to start spring training, preparing him to be ready for the start of the season. He led the major leagues in walks before the injury, and Girardi thinks Philadelphia’s struggles really began last season without McCutchen’s presence at the top of the batting order and in the clubhouse.

DIAMONDBACKS:  The Arizona Diamondbacks capped a busy offseason by locking down their two-time Gold Glove shortstop, who has slowly turned into a solid offensive threat.

The D-backs announced they’ve agreed to a $32.5 million, four-year deal with Nick Ahmed that runs through the 2023 season. The 29-year-old Ahmed was eligible for salary arbitration and had his hearing scheduled for Wednesday, but that won’t be needed thanks to the deal.

ARBITRATION: Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez asked an arbitration panel for a raise to $4 million and Los Angeles argued during a hearing he should be paid $3.5 million.

A right-hander who turns 32 next month, Baez was 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 71 relief appearances last season, striking out 69 in 69 2/3 innings and walking 23. He had a $2.1 million salary.

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