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Rangers manager, former Dodgers coach Woodward says Astros cheating scandal 'hurts'

"You think, 'OK, how did they hit that? They must have known it was coming,'" the Texas Rangers manager said.

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Before taking the job as the Texas Rangers manager in the fall of 2018, Chris Woodward was the third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers -- a team that went to back-to-back World Series, losing to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018.

Now, those two organizations are mired in scandal. The Astros have been punished for an elaborate sign-stealing operation. The Red Sox are awaiting punishment, as Commissioner Rob Manfred evaluates the evidence.

So how does Woodward, then a member of the team that could arguably claim the biggest grievance, feel about what's come to light this offseason?

"It hurts," Woodward said. "You know, publicly I haven't really gotten into detail about that. But it kinda is what it is."

"You know we're scratching and clawing, we're in the moment," Woodward said of the Dodgers teams in '17 and '18. 

"We knew that, you know, there was a possibility [of sign stealing]. There's always an accusation.  And you think, 'OK, how did they hit that? They must have known it was coming.' But honestly, it is what it is. There's nothing we can do about it now. You know, I'm not gonna say we would have won, or should have won, or take it away," Woodward said. 

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Woodward wasn't as fire-and-brimstone as others around the league have been, like Nick Markakis of the Braves, who told reporters Tuesday morning that he feels like "every single guy over there needs a beating."

But Woodward did express his disappointment for teams that could've added championship banners to Dodgers Stadium.

"You know, we fought hard to try to win those World Series," Woodward said. "And, you know, the '17 one hurts, obviously. Hurts a lot. Just because I felt like that team was a world championship-caliber team. We felt like we were going to win the World Series.

But Woodward doesn't see the revelations of this offseason as proof that the Dodgers would have won those championships.

"The fact that we didn't, we still didn't. Regardless of what came out, or the Commissioners Report says. We still, in my opinion, didn't win. They obviously got punished for what they've done. Do they deserve it, or do would they not have won?  I don't know."

Part of his reasoning for that is the fact that it remains unclear whether the Astros continued their cheating scheme in the postseason.

"We don't even know if they were using it in the World Series because it was so loud," Woodward said. "I don't even know if they could use the same technique that they were using."

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But, he doesn't absolve them of any possible postseason wrong-doing, either.

"There were definitely eye opening moments where, you know, at our place they didn't hit it as well, and at their place they did. So, it was a little bit concerning."

Manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were both suspended for a full year by Major League Baseball. That same day, they were fired by the Astros organization. The players, however, have received no punishment for their involvement in the sign-stealing scheme.

"Listen, I'm going to support, obviously, the commissioners' judgment on that," Woodward said. "I understand the reasons why he didn't [punish the players]. There's a lot of players. There's a lot of players on the team, and you don't know who was using it, who wasn't, with some of the stuff that's come to light. That's out of my judgment."

Woodward does see the situation differently as it relates to Hinch and the duties that lie on a manager's shoulders.

"Me being a manager now, it does kind of fall on me. You know, if something like that is going on under my watch, I would fully expect to get [the punishment that] happened to AJ."

"AJ and I are pretty good friends so I obviously feel bad for that happening on his watch," Woodward said. "Obviously as a leader, you got to take pride in saying, 'OK, these things aren't going to occur under my watch.' He obviously was very candid about it and he admitted he should have done something beforehand. As far as the players go, I don't -- the Commissioner had his reasons why, and I'll support that."

Mike Leslie will be chronicling all of Texas Rangers spring training at Surprise Stadium in Arizona. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, and check back here for the latest updates from Chicago.

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