Catcher Jonathan Lucroy split time between the Angels and Cubs last season, batting .232 with eight homers. He was signed to a minor league contract by the Red Sox earlier this week. David Dermer/Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The last time Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke had Jonathan Lucroy for a full season was in 2014, when Lucroy hit .301 with 53 doubles and finished fourth in MVP voting for the Milwaukee Brewers.

When Roenicke picked up the phone to call Lucroy about a reunion, it was an easy decision.

“He called me and he wanted me to come,” said Lucroy, the newest catcher for the Boston Red Sox. “It was a big thing, ‘You have an opportunity here. You can come here and have an opportunity to make the team.’ Right now, that’s all you can ask for for a guy in my position.”

Lucroy played in 101 games last season for the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs, batting .232 with eight home runs. He spent 2018 with the Oakland Athletics, who were rocked by the Houston Astros’ offense all season.

“I knew about (the Astros’ sign-stealing system) two years ago, what was going on,” Lucroy said. “I know it just recently came out, but everybody in baseball, especially that division that played against them, we were all aware of the Astros doing those things. And it was up to us to outsmart them, which is kind of hard when you have a computer program that breaks your signs.

“They were stealing signs from first, too, from between your legs. So they had a very intricate system going on. We were well aware of it. It was a challenge.

“It was crazy some of the pitches they would take. It was like, ‘Man, these guys are the best hitters I’ve ever seen.’ It all made sense when I found out, when we found out how they were doing it. It all made sense. Then it was like, ‘What are you going to do?’ “

Lucroy said the A’s communicated with MLB in 2018, but all the league office did was contact the Astros.

“They didn’t go through the whole investigation,” he said. “It wasn’t until Mike Fiers came out publicly that they went out and looked at it really hard.

“That’s how I found out. We knew they were stealing signs before, because you would be back there catching and they would be whistling or yelling. I’m always listening for those things. Those guys do it all the time. If I set up outside, they will whistle. They will whistle location. Or they will call their last name or their number for location if I go in or out. So you will see catchers setting up late so guys don’t have time to do that. But I knew they were doing all that, which a lot of teams do that. That’s OK. That’s on the field. On the field is one thing. That’s fair game. That’s part of it. But when you’re talking about it the way they were with the trash can, that’s pretty tough.”

How does MLB fix this?

“They talked about the earpieces and the radio transmitter, but the thing is that somebody is going to hack into that, too,” Lucroy said. “I’m sure there is some kind of CIA spy thing out there. Somebody is going to figure something out. We’ve talked about it as a union. We’ve talked about it among ourselves as players. There has to be something we can do to make it easier. The NFL does it with their quarterbacks.”

Lucroy, who was signed to a minor league deal on Wednesday, will likely compete with Kevin Plawecki for the opportunity to backup starting catcher Christian Vazquez, Roenicke said.

Lucroy’s numbers haven’t looked good in recent years. He missed time with a concussion in 2019, and said he’s had a herniated disc in his neck for the last three years. He underwent offseason surgery on his neck and said he’s almost back to 100 percent.

“Pretty close,” he said. “It’s been a huge increase in bat speed. … I feel pretty good.”

Roenicke considers him a trusted backstop, but wouldn’t tip his hand about Lucroy’s chances of making the roster other than to say he doesn’t plan on keeping three catchers.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.