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Dodgers’ Ross Stripling says he’d consider throwing at Astros hitters

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ross Stripling, among the many Los Angeles Dodgers players who has expressed anger over the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal, was asked if he would consider throwing at Astros hitters if he were to face them this coming season.

Stripling thought about the question for a few seconds before arriving at an answer.

“I would lean toward yes,” he said. “In the right time and in the right place. Maybe I give up two runs the inning before and I got some anger going. Who knows? But yeah, it would certainly be on my mind.”

Stripling and the Dodgers are not scheduled to play the Astros in 2020, but the pitcher recently was almost traded to a Los Angeles Angels team that plays in the American League West and opens its season against division rival Houston for the first of at least 19 games in 2020.

Many throughout the league have expressed a similar sentiment, most famously Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger, who recently said that Astros hitters “shouldn’t be comfortable” in their at-bats. Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood noted that if it were a different time, Astros hitters might “get pegged every inning.”

Doing so in 2020 is a little tougher.

“Somebody will take it into their own hands, and they’ll get suspended more games than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years,” Wood said. “It’ll be pretty ironic when that happens, because I’m sure that’s how it’ll end up playing out.”

An investigation by Major League Baseball, sparked by comments pitcher Mike Fiers made to The Athletic in November, revealed that the Astros cheated by using a camera-based, sign-stealing system during the regular season and playoffs of their World Series-winning 2017.

Several of the Dodgers players who lost to Houston in that World Series have expressed anger both at the Astros’ methods and what they perceived to be a general lack of remorse from the culprits.

Cody Bellinger, among the most outspoken Friday, was asked about pitchers potentially throwing at Astros hitters this season.

“Hey, man, if that makes you feel better,” Bellinger said. “They’ve been stealing your signs for years and years, and you got a bigger ERA because of it and you lost money in arbitration because of it, so be it.”

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Yoenis Cespedes breaks silence, aims for Opening Day

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Yoenis Cespedes broke his silence with the media on Sunday, saying he didn’t want to talk about the past but he is hoping to be ready for Opening Day.

On Monday the New York Mets outfielder had told reporters he did not plan to talk to the media.

“Not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year,” he said, only to change his mind six days later, answering questions through an interpreter.

Asked by reporters if he planned to be ready for Opening Day, he said, “If I continue progressing the way that I am, yes.”

He has been working out with his Mets teammates since Monday.

While recovering from surgery on his heels last May, Cespedes fractured his right ankle in multiple places in an accident at his ranch just west of the Mets’ training complex. He and the Mets agreed in December to an amended contract that cut his base salary from $29.5 million to $6 million. He would raise his pay to $11 million if he has one active day on the major league roster and to $20 million if he has 650 plate appearances — a figure he has reached just once.

“I’m not going to speak about the past,” Cespedes told reporters. “I committed an error and I paid the price for it, but today I’ll be talking about the present and the future.”

He said the chance to raise his salary by staying on the field was important but he would have come into this season with the same motivation regardless of how his contract was structured.

“A big part of the motivation is the people who have been out there and have been saying that I can’t do it. So I am going out there to prove that I can,” he said.

The 34-year-old Cespedes won a Gold Glove in 2015 and a Silver Slugger the following year. He has played in only 119 games in the first three seasons of a $110 million, four-year contract, just 38 since the end of the 2017 season because of hamstring strains, a hip flexor, surgery on his heels and his broken ankle.

“I feel good. I am happy with the progress,” Cespedes told reporters. “Every day I am still working to get better and better. It’s not as fast as I want it to be, but as the season approaches I feel really good right now.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Fans heckling Astros spring opener get signs confiscated

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Fans hoping to heckle the sign-stealing Houston Astros at their spring opener were met with quite the coincidence.

They got their signs taken.

In the Astros’ first spring training game since their sign-stealing scandal rocked baseball, some fans brought signs jeering Houston, and ballpark personnel confiscated them before the Grapefruit League opener against the World Series champion Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

In a Series rematch, the Nats got hearty cheers, while everyone in an Astros jersey — including the mascot, Orbit — was booed. Houston did not use any players implicated in MLB’s probe.

Two men in Nationals gear sitting behind the Astros dugout briefly held up crudely drawn signs just before first pitch. One read: “You see my hate?” in large block letters. And another said: “Houston” with an asterisk below it, suggesting the Astros’ 2017 World Series title should be permanently blemished because of the cheating.

The men didn’t get to show off their signs for long. A woman who worked for the ballpark quickly approached to take the signs. The men didn’t argue with the woman, but they did look confused as she walked away with the signs folded in her arms.

The Astros and Nationals share a spring training complex. Houston was designated the home team Saturday.

Matthew Silliman, who held one of the signs, said he didn’t know they were forbidden. He drove to the game from Tampa Bay and said he has been waiting to let the Astros know what he thinks of them.

“I’m a big Nats fan and it’s wrong,” he said. “They’re cheaters.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred concluded last month the Astros violated rules by using a television camera to steal catchers’ signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season and then fired by the team, but players were not disciplined.

Fans booed loudly every time the public address announcer said “Astros,” and fans behind Houston’s dugout heckled Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. as they stood on the dugout steps before the game. A few fans banged on their metal seats, attempting to mimic the banging on a trash can the Astros used to relay stolen signs to hitters.

One fan in a Nationals jersey yelled: “Hey Altuve, are you scared to play tonight?” Others screamed “You suck!” and “Cheaters!”

About a half-dozen fans wore shirts that read “bang foul poles, not trash cans” in reference to Howie Kendrick‘s decisive home run for Washington in Game 7 of last year’s World Series.

First-year Houston manager Dusty Baker said he didn’t think the reception was “too bad” and said his team will have to get used to it.

“You’ll probably get the same reception most places you go, especially the first go-round,” he said. “So, you’ve just got to put your big-boy pants on and then just try to shut it out and just play baseball and realize this too shall pass.”

Washington ace Max Scherzer, who started Game 7 to help the Nationals to their first title, also started Saturday and pitched two scoreless innings. He was asked if he thought Saturday night’s game would be more dramatic considering what’s going on with the Astros.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said. “We won the World Series, so it wasn’t like I have a vendetta to hold. So, for me over here we’re just trying to move forward and get ready for our season.”

Scherzer was a bit disappointed that none of Houston’s starters played Saturday when he allowed one hit and struck out two.

“You want to face the best,” Scherzer said. “They’re a great lineup, but I get it, it’s early in the spring, you’re not going to see them.”

And while Silliman didn’t get to keep his signs, he said it wouldn’t stop him from heckling the Astros with his voice.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “They’re going to get it all.”

He didn’t have long. The game was delayed because of rain after two innings and canceled about 90 minutes later when rain continued.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Fans heckling Astros spring opener get signs stolen

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Fans hoping to heckle the sign-stealing Houston Astros at their spring opener were met with quite the coincidence.

They got their signs stolen.

In the Astros’ first spring training game since their sign-stealing scandal rocked baseball, some fans brought signs jeering Houston, and ballpark personnel confiscated them before the exhibition opener against the World Series champion Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

In a Series rematch, the Nats got hearty cheers, while everyone in an Astros jersey — including the mascot, Orbit — was booed. Houston did not use any players implicated in MLB’s probe.

Two men in Nationals gear sitting behind the Astros dugout briefly held up crudely drawn signs just before first pitch. One read: “You see my hate?” in large block letters. And another said: “Houston” with an asterisk below it, suggesting the Astros’ 2017 World Series title should be permanently blemished because of the cheating.

The men didn’t get to show off their signs for long. A woman who worked for the ballpark quickly approached to take the signs. They didn’t argue with the woman, but they did look confused as she walked away with them folded in her arms.

The Astros and Nationals share a spring training complex. Houston was designated the home team Saturday.

Matthew Silliman, who held one of the signs, said he didn’t know they were forbidden. He drove to the game from Tampa Bay and said he’s been waiting to let the Astros know what he thinks of them.

“I’m a big Nats fan and it’s wrong,” he said. “They’re cheaters.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred concluded last month the Astros violated rules by using a television camera to steal catchers’ signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season and then fired by the team, but players were not disciplined.

Fans booed loudly every time the public address announcer said “Astros,” and fans behind Houston’s dugout heckled Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. as they stood on the dugout steps before the game. A few fans banged on their metal seats, attempting to mimic the banging on a trash can the Astros used to relay stolen signs to hitters.

One fan in a Nationals jersey yelled: “Hey Altuve, are you scared to play tonight?” Others screamed “you suck!” and “cheaters!”

About a half-dozen fans wore shirts that read “bang foul poles, not trash cans” in reference to Howie Kendrick‘s decisive home run for Washington in Game 7 of last year’s World Series.

First-year Houston manager Dusty Baker said he didn’t think the reception was “too bad” and said his team will have to get used to it.

“You’ll probably get the same reception most places you go, especially the first go-round,” he said. “So, you’ve just got to put your big-boy pants on and then just try to shut it out and just play baseball and realize this too shall pass.”

Washington ace Max Scherzer, who started Game 7 to help the Nationals to their first title, also started Saturday and pitched two scoreless innings. He was asked if he thought Saturday night’s game would be more dramatic considering what’s going on with the Astros.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said. “We won the World Series, so it wasn’t like I have a vendetta to hold. So, for me over here we’re just trying to move forward and get ready for our season.”

Scherzer was a bit disappointed that none of Houston’s starters played Saturday when he allowed one hit and struck out two.

“You want to face the best,” Scherzer said. “They’re a great lineup but I get it, it’s early in the spring you’re not going to see them.”

And while Silliman didn’t get to keep his signs, he said it wouldn’t stop him from heckling the Astros with his voice.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “They’re going to get it all.”

He didn’t have long. The game was delayed because of rain after two innings and canceled about 90 minutes later when rain continued.



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