The Dodgers clubhouse at Camelback Ranch was sparsely populated Saturday when an interview with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, the latest chapter in a saga that refuses to fade, was shown on the televisions in the middle of the room.
A day after several Dodgers voiced candid opinions on the Astros’ cheating scandal and the organization’s subsequent apologies, Correa emotionally denied allegations from players around the league who have maintained that the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing wasn’t limited to 2017.
In his long spiel, aired on Major League Baseball’s television channel, Correa directly addressed Cody Bellinger, challenging the reigning National League MVP’s unfiltered thoughts on the matter, including that Astros second baseman José Altuve stole the American League MVP award from the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge in 2017. He insisted the Astros deserved the 2017 World Series title they won against the Dodgers.
“This is America,” Correa said. “You can say whatever you want. But Cody Bellinger’s job is to look for information. Get informed. Know the facts, for sure, before he stands in front of cameras to talk about other players. You should get informed. You should be informed before you talk about other players. If you don’t know the facts, then you’ve got to shut the ... up.”
Correa’s obscenity elicited mock outrage from the few Dodgers watching. They laughed at times during the interview. They yelled rebuttals and disregarded his breakdown of how the Astros scored runs at Minute Maid Park during the World Series. Most went about their business at their lockers. One player wondered why MLB allowed the interview to run uncut on its network in the first place. Correa did nothing to change their minds.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was among those watching. A few hours earlier, the closer spoke his mind on the situation. He also chose not to mince words. Jansen said the Astros’ cheating was worse than the performance-enhancing and gambling scandals that have previously marred the sport.
“You killed a lot of young careers during the season,” Jansen said. “Pitchers used to come up and get crushed and get sent down. And then all you gotta say is, ‘I’m sorry.’ People are not having a job right now because of that, and that’s why I’m saying it’s worse. At least back then everybody used to use steroids. So it was a fair game.”
Jansen insisted Major League Baseball’s punishment — namely giving players immunity in exchange for cooperating with the league’s investigation — was woefully inadequate, suggesting the Astros should be banned for the 2020 postseason. He pointed to UEFA’s recent decision to ban Manchester City from the Champions League for two years as an example.
“We suspend coaches, managers, and you don’t suspend players. You’re basically telling teams to keep on doing it,” Jansen said. “It’s like when the first suspension of steroids came. It was 15 games, and guys [kept] doing it. I don’t think this is enough. You think they’re going to stop doing it? All they’re going to do is fire a manager, and fire coaches, they’re not going to blame the players. In my mind, I don’t think it’s gonna stop.”
Jansen was the best relief pitcher in the majors in 2017. He was as close to unhittable as a closer can approach for seven months. And he reached that level by snapping cutters at a high clip. So he was stunned when Alex Bregman hit a slider off him for a home run in Game 4 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.
On Saturday, he wondered if Bregman knew a slider was coming. He suggested the same thing about Altuve crushing a slider for a walk-off home run against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the ALCS last October.
“Who would sit on Chapman’s slider in this game?” Jansen said. “Let’s be honest — a guy who throws 105 miles per hour. Who would sit on his slider?”
Correa and other Astros players have vehemently denied that they illegally stole signs after the 2017 season, though the commissioner’s report states the cheating continued into 2018. Correa ripped into Bellinger for saying he “100%” believes the Astros cheated in 2018 and 2019.
At least we finally saw a real reaction out of somebody lol.— Alex Wood (@Awood45) February 15, 2020
But Bellinger isn’t the only Dodger to believe the Astros’ cheating wasn’t limited to that one season. They had heard the whispers of Astros pushing the boundaries for years. They’re not giving in. Correa’s fiery plea won’t change that.
“This is the worst thing that could’ve happened in baseball,” Jansen said.
The Dodgers traded outfielder Kyle Garlick to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league left-hander Tyler Gilbert. Garlick was designated for assignment last week to free up a spot on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for one of their recent acquisitions. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said right-hander Brusdar Graterol will participate in a workout Sunday after missing the first two days of official workouts with an illness. The Dodgers acquired Graterol, a 21-year-old prospect, from the Minnesota Twins last week. ... David Price threw his first bullpen Saturday since reporting to camp. Roberts said the Dodgers plan on playing it slow with Price’s workload in spring training.