OAKLAND -- Mike Fiers has been a central figure in the recent controversy surrounding the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme put into play in early 2017. Given the opportunity to address the fallout from MLB’s investigation into the matter for the first time on Friday, the A’s right-hander chose not to go
OAKLAND -- Mike Fiers has been a central figure in the recent controversy surrounding the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme put into play in early 2017. Given the opportunity to address the fallout from MLB’s investigation into the matter for the first time on Friday, the A’s right-hander chose not to go to into any further detail.
“I said what I said. We’re moving forward,” Fiers said. “I don’t want to be a distraction to this team. I want everyone to focus on the season at hand and be ready for Spring Training.”
Last November, in a story published by The Athletic, Fiers spoke about the technology being used by Houston hitters during his time with the Astros in 2017 to steal signs from opposing pitchers. The story led to an investigation by the Commissioner's Office that resulted in the Astros losing multiple Draft picks over the next two seasons, as well as a maximum allowable $5 million fine and the suspension for the 2020 season of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. Astros owner Jim Crane took things a step further by subsequently dismissing both.
While Fiers has been the subject of criticism by some around the league for speaking out about the situation through the media, there is no such attitude within the A’s organization. It’s actually quite the opposite, with various teammates and coaches voicing their support for the pitcher without hesitation.
“People can say what they want about Mike, but without him, this whole thing would never have been uncovered,” A’s pitcher Sean Manaea said. “He’s our teammate and we’re always going to have his back.”
“It was only going to happen this way,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You hear a lot of guys criticizing and saying, 'He should have reported it to the league.' A lot was reported to the league. But it’s tough to get something done unless a player that was there comes out and says something. It wasn’t going to go down any other way.
“This is significant enough where it needed to be addressed. As time goes on, he’ll be revered for making this game a better place. You’re seeing more sentiment come his way now, and it should. Because there’s no place for this in baseball. This crosses a serious line.”
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As for the penalties handed down to the Astros, Fiers mentioned in the November article that he was just looking for a level playing field throughout the league, something A’s general manager David Forst believes is closer to happening in the wake of the punishments handed to the Astros.
“It’s not for anybody else to judge the penalties,” Forst said. “The penalties will hopefully act as a deterrent going forward. Nobody started this looking for people to lose their jobs or get suspended. What Mike wanted was for everybody to play the same game, and hopefully, we’re closer to that now than we were a few months ago.”
Forst was also unwavering in his support for Fiers and what he said was a courageous act in coming out with the allegations.
“Frankly, I think what Mike did was brave,” Forst said. “I think when all is said and done, he should be lauded for what he’s done. I think a majority of players in the game will look back on what he did and appreciate it.”
Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.