MLB notebook: Astros’ Baker concerned as criticism continues


New Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is concerned opposing pitchers will retaliate against his players by hitting them with pitches in the wake of the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling said Friday there will be a time and a place for retaliation from the mound. Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger previously declared Astros hitters won’t have comfortable at-bats in the early part of the season.

“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about,” Baker told reporters Saturday, according to ESPN. “And in most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.”

As spring training gets underway, many players have delivered critical takes on the Astros’ system in 2017 to steal pitchers’ signs and relay what pitch is coming to their batters. Houston ended up winning the World Series that year, winning a Game 7 over the Dodgers.

—Just days after apologizing for what some consider the biggest cheating scandal in baseball history, the Astros are lashing back at their critics, namely the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger.

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa responded to Bellinger’s criticism from Friday, telling The Athletic and MLB Network that the Dodgers’ slugger is misinformed. Bellinger also said he thought Jose Altuve “stole an MVP” from New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge in 2017.

“The problem I have is when players go out there and they don’t know the facts; they’re not informed about the situation and they just go out there and go on camera and just talk,” Correa said. “With me, that doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem right at all.”

“What we did in 2017, yeah, it was an advantage,” Correa added. “Yeah, it was wrong. Yeah, we feel bad about it. Because it’s completely … it’s just bad. It’s just bad. It’s a bad look for our organization. It’s a bad look for us players. But I’m here to tell you Jose Altuve earned that MVP. That’s his MVP, and nobody can take that away from him.”

—The effects of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal have trickled down to Little League.

The Orange County Register reported the Long Beach Little League and the East Fullerton Little League have banned the use of the name Astros from their teams this year.

“Parents are disgusted,” Long Beach Little League president Steve Klaus told the newspaper. “They are disgusted with the Astros and their lack of ownership and accountability. We know there’s more to this scandal. What’s coming tomorrow? With the Astros, you’ve got premeditated cheating.”

—The Oakland Athletics acquired right-hander Burch Smith in a trade with the San Francisco Giants, who had designated the pitcher for assignment Monday.

Smith, 29, had a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances with the Giants last season after he was selected off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. In three seasons with the San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, Brewers and Giants, Smith is 2-10 with a 6.57 ERA in 65 appearances (13 starts).

It was the first transaction between the Bay Area teams since left-hander Adam Pettyjohn was traded from the Giants to the A’s in 2004 for cash considerations.

—The New York Yankees signed right-hander Chad Bettis to a minor league contract, according to multiple reports. Bettis will also receive an invitation to spring training.

He will receive $1.5 million if he makes the big league roster with an opportunity to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses, according to

Bettis, who turns 31 in April, was just 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA in 39 appearances (three starts) last season for the Colorado Rockies. His season concluded when he underwent hip surgery in late August.

—Field Level Media