Bob Melvin was suspicious of Houston’s dugout camera

Years before the Astros’ intricate sign-stealing operation ever came to light, A’s manager Bob Melvin always seemed a little suspicious of a dugout camera in Houston, according to one of his former players.

Ex-A’s All-Star pitcher Sonny Gray revealed in a podcast Thursday that Melvin was proactive in making sure nothing out of the ordinary was going on in his own dugout at Minute Maid Park.

“When I was in Oakland and we’d always go there, I just thought about this, they had a camera facing in the dugout right when you walk in there,” Gray said on C.C. Sabathia’s “R2C2” podcast. “Right up in there to the right there’s just a camera. And I’d go — like jokingly, just joking. This is early, like in ’14, ’15 — ‘Dang, BoMel what’s that? They trying to film us?’ Joking.”

But Gray indicated Melvin, whom he called “the best,” got a funny look on his face before springing into action.

“And he takes this towel and he’d throw it over (the camera),” Gray said. “Every game we played in Houston, he’d just throw a towel right over it.”

It took A’s pitcher Mike Fiers blowing the whistle on the Astros before Major League Baseball launched its investigation that confirmed Houston’s illegal schemes. But long before Fiers’ interview with The Athletic in November, Melvin was among those who believed something illegal was going on when they played the Astros.

“Just felt different at their place,” Melvin told reporters in January. “Just like any team, we had some suspicions for a couple years, then Mike (Fiers) came over to us. You look at the games there and you see guys giving multiple signs with no one on base, it’s a dead giveaway.”

And like many around baseball, Gray and the podcast co-host Sabathia are still angered by the Astros’ nefarious ways. Gray and Sabathia were on the Yankees’ team that lost to the Astros, who illegally used video to steal signs and ultimately taint the 2017 ALCS.

“I would almost rather tell you (what I’m throwing) because now I know that you know,” Gray said of Houston hitters being fed the signs before the pitch was coming. “And I’m like, ‘I know that you know that I’m throwing a fastball, let’s (expletive) go!’

“Man, it’s wild. And they were cocky. They were sooo cocky.”

“And they still haven’t apologized,” Sabathia said. “They’re still going on the offensive. It’s crazy.

“I pitched in the steroid era. I pitched against a lot of (expletive) that was garbage. Like, I can still get you out. Take as many steroids as you want. But if you know what the (expletive) is coming, I got no chance of getting you out.”

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