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Cashman says Yankees will stop using hand signals from stands

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Associated Press
4/2/2011 3:58:20 PM
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NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees say they are finished flashing hand signals from the stands -- at least for now.

General manager Brian Cashman confirmed that the team received a call Saturday from the commissioner's office inquiring about a club employee relaying information to players after each pitch on opening day.

The Daily News reported Saturday that broadcaster Keith Olbermann, a New York season-ticket holder, put a photo on Twitter of Brett Weber, a Yankees baseball operations coaching assistant, holding up four fingers toward the field during Thursday's game against the Detroit Tigers.

Weber was sitting behind home plate and wearing a headset.

Major League Baseball rules prohibit club staff from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players.

Cashman said there was a simple explanation: The Yankee Stadium scoreboard was on the fritz, so Weber was just providing the sort of post-pitch details that normally appear for all to see, such as "93 mph fastball."

"The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams' hitter, to the guy on deck," Cashman said. "There's nothing to hide. We've got nothing to hide."

Cashman said Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator, relaying pitch information that can be displayed in centre field for the fans' enjoyment.

Cashman said Joe Garagiola Jr., baseball's new disciplinarian, spoke Saturday morning with Yankees vice-president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman said there was no mention of any potential punishment and he thought Garagiola was satisfied with the team's explanation.

"I think he recognizes the fact that there's no real advantage here. But at the same time there is a bulletin out that says you're not supposed to do that. We explained to him that the first inning the scoreboard was reading 912 mph, so normally that stuff's out there," Cashman said. "I think it's really silly, personally. But we provided all information in a truthful and honest way to Joe."

Cashman said he thinks Garagiola plans to review the policy next week with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now MLB's executive vice-president for baseball operations.

In the meantime, the Yankees will put a stop to those hand signals from the stands.

"We're not going to do it until they resolve what they want," Cashman said.

Regardless, the GM was surprised by all the "blogosphere" buzz on Friday.

"It's probably more work talking about than it's worth," Cashman said. "The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did 'em a favour by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others."

Brian Cashman (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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