Moyer to handle Chipper situation 'on the field'
Rox lefty had accused Braves third baseman of stealing signs
DENVER -- To hear Chipper Jones tell it, the turning point in the Braves' comeback against Jamie Moyer on Saturday night came in the fifth inning after Jones knocked a run-scoring double and Moyer accused him of stealing signs from his catcher, Wilin Rosario. Jones credits the accusation with sparking a Braves rally, ultimately leading to the Rockies' 12-9 defeat.
"He woke a sleeping giant," Jones said. "He started chirping and it went all downhill from there. He accused me of relaying a sign down, 6-2, with a 3-0 count to Brian McCann. I have never relayed a sign to anyone while I'm on second base."
McCann plated Jones with a single to right, and the Braves got three more runs off Moyer in the sixth, with back-to-back solo homers and another single ending the veteran 49-year-old lefty's night. No one was on base for any of the three hits Moyer allowed to open the sixth. Jones had two more hits in the game, driving in a total of five runs to match his career high.
After initially offering "no comment" regarding his exchange with Jones, Moyer responded to Jones' comments about Moyer sparking the rally by saying," Whatever. That's his choice of words."
According to Jones, Moyer also issued a warning to McCann when Moyer was batting in the bottom of the fifth.
"What really gets under my skin is that he told Mac when he came up, 'That's how people get hurt,'" Jones said. "At that point, I told [Todd] Helton and [Troy Tulowitzki] to tell him, because he was already out of the game by then after those 900-foot homers with nobody on base. I said he could meet me in the tunnel to discuss it, and I never heard back."
While Moyer did not want to "bring the media into it," he did acknowledge that stealing signs from second base is an acknowledged and accepted part of the game.
"It's fair game," Moyer said. "You don't want to get caught."
Jones was emphatic about never requesting or relaying a sign in his career, and insisted that the Braves' organization has rarely engaged in the practice during his tenure. He did note that the Phillies, Moyer's team from 2006-10, were notorious sign stealers.
"Tulo said [Moyer's] signs are so complex that NASA couldn't steal them," Jones added.
For his part, Tulowitzki corroborated Jones' claim of innocence.
"I didn't get that sense [that Jones was stealing signs] at all," Tulowitzki said. "Chipper was talking to me the whole time. I really got no comment. It's between them."
Tulowitzki did offer his perspective on where stealing signs falls in baseball's "unwritten rules," essentially agreeing with Moyer that the practice is fair game from the basepaths. Obviously, more advanced techniques like using binoculars from the bullpen and sending signals from scoreboards cross the line.
"Pitchers doctor up the ball all the time," Tulowitzki said, putting it in perspective. "Nobody really says anything about that, but I continuously see pitchers -- whether it's sunscreen, some kind of lotion, whatever it is -- they're always going to their wrist, always going to their hair, gel. That's something that goes unnoticed that no one talks about. Stealing signs, locations -- if you don't like it, I think it's pretty easy. You switch up your signs."
While Jones' proposed "tunnel talk" seemed unlikely to convene Sunday, the teams meet up again in Atlanta in September, and the 40-year-old Jones and the 49-year-old Moyer can rekindle their dialogue then.
"Whatever happens on the field, stays on the field," Moyer said. "That's how I look at things. We'll handle things on the field. That's how I was taught how to do it."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.