Red Sox acquisition says he regrets not trying to stop the cheating.

New Red Sox starting pitcher Collin McHugh expressed regret for his time with 2017 Astros, who are caught up in one of the game’s most prolific cheating scandals.

“To know that our hitters made that job that much harder that year, it’s hard to swallow,” McHugh told reporters in Fort Myers on Friday. “And I feel for them. I understand the anger. I understand when people are mad and (ticked) off. And I get it, I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to be out there and feel like a team has your signs and it’s a lonely place.

“I think a lot of the guys on that team, including myself, are looking back now and wishing we’d been as brave in the moment and we thought we were beforehand.”

McHugh said being on the ’17 Astros when they were illegally stealing signs was “really awkward.”

“Sign stealing is universally, across the board bad for pitchers,” he said. “And we know that. It made our jobs harder. And we truly believed or were made to believe that it was happening to us too and we don’t know if that was true or not but that’s not justification for doing anything. Just because you think they’re doing it, it’s not justification for doing something you know is not right.

“Looking back, I don’t know what we could have done as pitchers. It wasn’t really our territory. Maybe we could have gotten together and somehow tried to stop it, but yeah, it was tough. It was tough watching that. You feel for guys out there who are working their tails off whether they’re on your team or against you. I love seeing good pitching and it took some really good pitching that year to beat us.”

McHugh will miss the start of the season while recovering from a flexor strain. He had a procedure done to clean up his elbow in the winter and doesn’t know when he’ll be able to start throwing again.

“Kind of developed last year a little bit out of nowhere,” he said. “I’ve never really been a guy with elbow problems, knock on wood. I’ve been pretty healthy coming into that. I don’t know whether it was the changing from starting to relieving and back and forth or change in routine and workload.”

The Sox haven’t said if he’ll pitch out of the rotation or bullpen when he’s healthy.