The Marlins suspected the Phillies of stealing signs long before the Philadelphia bullpen coach was caught gazing through binoculars at Coors Field earlier in the week, which has led to a reprimand from Major League Baseball.
"We've always had our suspicions," said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said that the way the tiered bullpens are configured in Philadelphia, with one on top of the other behind the center field wall, their suspicions reached a point last season where bullpen coach Steve Foster and bullpen catcher Pierre Arsenault looked over the top and inside the Phillies pen to make sure they weren't stealing signs from that vantage point.
"We never caught anybody," Gonzalez said. "But we had our suspicions. It's so easy. It's so tempting."
Interestingly, the Marlins went 7-2 in Philadelphia last season.
Catcher John Baker said suspicions that the Phillies were stealing signs started in 2008.
"Some of their guys took some strange swings at some pitches that went against the scouting report, that were really surprising," Baker said. "(Former pitching coach) Mark Wiley and I had a sense that they knew what was coming that pitch, even when there was nobody on second base. It could have been great hitting and they guessed right."
Baker said the Marlins became "proactive" and started having their catchers give "multiple sign sequences" even when no Phillies were on base. Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino said, while watching the playoffs last season, he noticed Dodgers catchers employing the same strategy -- even when no runners were on base -- when they faced the Phillies.
"Yeah, we suspected them," Baker said. "Instead of saying, 'You guys are cheaters, let's call them out,' we started giving multiple signs earlier in the game. We would do that with nobody on."
But Baker said he doesn't have a problem with trying to steal signs, whether the Phillies were using binoculars or not. (The Phillies have denied any such wrongdoing).
"I don't find it so egregious," Baker said. "This game is about winning. Until you get caught, I don't see what the problem is. We figured they were doing it and we adjusted accordingly. If you think somebody's doing something, you've got to do something about it. There's two ways to go about it. You can call them out or you can take action yourself."
Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was shown looking through binoculars by FSN Rocky Mountain during the Rockies series earlier in the week. The cameras showed Billmeyer peering through the binoculars while Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo was behind the plate and the Phillies were batting in the top of the second inning.
Cameras also caught a glimpse of Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino on the bullpen phone that inning.
"We were not trying to steal signs," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told the Associated Press. "Would we try to steal somebody's signs? Yeah, if we can. But we don't do that. We're not going to let a guy stand up there in the bullpen with binoculars looking in. We're smarter than that."
MARLINS CALL UP BRETT HAYES.....With three left-handers scheduled to take the mound for the Mets this series, the Marlins called up catcher Brett Hayes and optioned outfielder Bryan Petersen back to Triple A New Orleans. Since Paulino will likely be starting three games, the move allows the Marlins to use Baker off the bench as a pinch-hitter against right-handers and have Hayes in reserve as a back-up catcher.....Brian Barden is receiving a rare start tonight in place of second baseman Dan Uggla. Gonzalez said he wanted to get Barden some at bats. Also, Uggla is 1 for 19 in his career against tonight's starter for the Mets, Johan Santana.
Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Brian Barden, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Cody Ross, cf; 6. Ronny Paulino, c; 7. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 8. Brett Carroll, rf; 9. Josh Johnson, rhp.
Mets: 1. Angel Pagan, cf; 2. Luis Castillo, 2b; 3. Jose Reyes, ss; 4. Jason Bay, lf; 5. David Wright, 3b; 6. Ike Davis, 1b; 7. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 8. Rod Barajas, c; 9. Johan Santana, lhp.