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Eric Thames

Astros pitcher Mike Fiers suspended five games for throwing over the head of Angels' Luis Valbuena

Astros pitcher Mike Fiers suspended five games for throwing over the head of Angels' Luis Valbuena

For more than two decades, Luis Valbuena said, he has been flipping his bat. Every time the Angels infielder puts the ball into play, he immediately drops his bat with flair, sometimes spinning it. Because of that, he argued, he should be exempt from the unwritten rule violation such an action normally qualifies as.

“It just comes naturally to me,” Valbuena said.

On Wednesday, Houston Astros right-hander Mike Fiers took offense when Valbuena admired his first-inning homer and mightily flipped his bat. Fiers, Valbuena’s former teammate in Houston the previous two seasons, threw over his head the next time Valbuena batted. Afterward Fiers admitted he had done it to make his...

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