– The Houston Astros’ cheating scandal took another turn Thursday when players such as Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve finally apologized for their roles in the plan. It came several weeks after MLB punished the Astros for using technology to steal signs from other clubs.

Because cheating, and what to do with cheaters, has been a hot topic, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was asked if he has ever contacted MLB with concerns that opponents weren’t playing by the rules.

“I don’t know. I can’t tell you that I know for sure that we did or didn’t,” Baldelli said. “We have in the past talked about different situations around the league. If something seems a little off, sometimes you ask a question. But nothing I know positively that we did call on.”

An Astros fan went through the entire 2017 season — the focus of the league’s investigation — and noted instances when the banging of a trash can was audible right before an opposing pitcher delivered the ball. The league’s investigation found that Houston used video monitors to read catchers’ signs, then banged on a garbage can to alert the hitter of what pitch was coming. One game in which that occurred was on July 14, 2017, when Jose Berrios was knocked out in the second inning.

Baldelli wasn’t the Twins manager then, but he was asked if any club he had been with previously had reached out to the league about potential cheaters. He indicated that clubs should make a call if they feel the opponent is up to no good.

“Like I said, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, everyone just wants a good, fair playing field,” Baldelli said, “and we want to let the players to decide what happens. We want to let the players decide who wins a game. If you have concerns around any of that, you should probably voice it. Because you’re taking care of your own business, you’re taking care of things with integrity, trying to do things the right way, and you hope everyone else does the same around the league.”

Baldelli vs. Shelton

It didn’t take long for the needling to begin.

New Pirates manager Derek Shelton, the Twins bench coach last season, has been pestering the Twins for the pitching lineup for when the teams meet on Feb. 22 in their Grapefruit League opener. Of course, it’s too early to set such a schedule.

“We might never send them,” Baldelli said.

Get ready for more shenanigans. Baldelli, Shelton and Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo all have connections to Tampa Bay and manager Kevin Cash. The four will probably spend the spring planning pranks and cracking jokes about each other.

“We know each other, going through the same things at the same times,” said Baldelli, who said he’s already spoken with Shelton a few times. “What I don’t like is that I have to say nice things about Kevin.”

Etc.

• Shortstop Royce Lewis, considered the top prospect in the Twins organization, reported to camp.

• Thursday’s workout was shortened so players and staff could participate in their annual charity golf tournament to support cancer care.

Let’s meet

Blaine Hardy, LHP

Age: 32

2019 stats: 1-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 39 games with Detroit. Walked 13, struck out 29 In 44⅓ innings.

Acquired: Signed as a nonroster invite to spring training.

Role: A long shot to make the team, Hardy would likely fill a middle relief role.

Did you know? Hardy’s wife, Nicky, is from the Brainerd area. And, after signing with the Twins, Hardy played golf in the area with former Twins and current Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, who promised him that he would like his new organization.

La VELLE E. NEAL III