Freddy Galvis might have a future as an NBA power forward, because when it came time to box out Mookie Betts, he stuck to him like Dennis Rodman.
The Red Sox have a reputation for stealing signs and relaying pitch location to their hitters, and the Blue Jays clearly weren't having it in a 10-4 victory on Tuesday night.
With one out and Betts on second base in the seventh inning, Galvis left shortstop to dance practically on the infield grass directly in front of the Red Sox right fielder until moments before David Phelps pitched. Though it looked like both players shared a laugh, it was also Galvis's serious attempt to keep Betts from relaying signs to J.D. Martinez, who ended up lining out to center.
"You've just got to be very aware of these guys," said Jays catcher Danny Jansen. "That's what they do. That's what their rep is for. You've got to be ready to switch it up and make adjustments every pitch. They're that good at it. They're that good at peeking in and relaying signs. Any way we can obstruct it, we're going to do what we have to do."
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo found the whole exchange amusing and credited Betts for a heads-up response that forced Galvis to retreat.
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"That was funny, because honestly, we were thinking he might be doing it, so Freddy was having fun with him," Montoyo said. "Mookie told the umpire, 'Hey, if I go that way, is that obstruction?' And the umpire said yeah, and Freddy said, 'OK, let me move out of the way a little bit.' "
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said he believes perennial Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons is the only other shortstop he can recall actively seeking to block a runner's view to keep him from stealing signs or relaying location. Betts picked the brains of a number of teammates and coaches during the game about Galvis's gambit and whether he could've earned an obstruction call.
"Smart by Mookie," Bogaerts said. "Smart by Mookie."
Stealing signs has been a part of the game practically since Abner Doubleday laid out his first diamond, and there's nothing in the rules that prevents a runner from trying to decode signs with the naked eye and relay them to the hitter. Where teams have gotten into trouble is when they use electronic devices to aid in the thievery, as the Red Sox learned during the Apple Watch fiasco in 2017, when they were caught stealing signs via wireless devices and ultimately fined.
Nothing Betts may have done on Tuesday was illegal, and the gamesmanship didn't end there. After Betts advanced on Martinez's liner, the Toronto TV broadcast caught Andrew Benintendi glancing towards Betts at third before popping out to Galvis to end the frame.
There was nothing Galvis could do to block Betts' view from there, after all.
"Freddy's good at that," Jansen said. "Not just the Red Sox. Whenever he thinks people are [stealing signs], he'll do that and I think that's what a good shortstop does. He's very aware, that's what Freddy is. I love that guy."
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