Cody Bellinger thinks Houston's José Altuve stole the 2017 AL MVP award from the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Astros swiped that year's World Series title from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“These guys were cheating for three years,’’ Bellinger said Friday at the Dodgers spring training camp. “I think what people don't realize is Altuve stole an MVP from Judge in '17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us."
The reigning NL MVP, Bellinger criticized Astros owner Jim Crane’s attempt at an apology Thursday and called MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's punishment “weak." Manager AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season each, and the team was fined $5 million and stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and '21. The Astros then fired Hinch and Luhnow.
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MLB found the Astros guilty of using video to steal catchers' signs in 2017 and 2018. Bellinger thinks the conduct continued throughout last season.
“One-hundred percent,’’ Bellinger said. “I don’t know why they would stop.’’
Bellinger wasn't the only angry Dodgers player as formal spring training workouts started.
“It’s like ripping open a scab,’’ veteran infielder Justin Turner said. “Rip off the scab and you try to re-heal, I guess. But there’s no way to hit the re-set button. What’s done is done. Lucky for us, we don’t play them this season. Let everybody else deal with them.’’
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said he has come to terms with the scandal, yet he also understands why his teammates are angry.
“You start talking about how it really affected people,’’ Kershaw said. “You’ve got guys who maybe got kicked out of the league because they got beaten by Houston in 2017. You got guys who maybe should have won MVP or whatever. Stats that are changed. It’s just a bad feeling, because you’re kind of helpless. I think guys don’t really know how to feel, because it’s never happened before.’’
Alex Wood, who re-signed with the Dodgers after spending last season with Cincinnati, said fans don’t understand the impact of the Astros' behavior, citing pitchers whose ERAs were inflated by Houston batters. He said some may have loss $300,000 to $400,000 in salary.
“I’d rather face a guy on steroids than a guy who knows what’s coming,’’ Wood said. “This is your life. The trickle-down effect is huge."
There has been speculation Astros batters might face on-field retaliation from opposing pitchers.
“My wife and I were just talking about that,’’ Wood said. “You’d be hard-pressed to say no. I mean, they messed with a lot of guys’ lives. I don’t condone that type of behavior. We don’t play them.
“But it wouldn’t surprise me if something like that happened, just to be honest. It’s funny, because I’m pretty sure it probably will happen. Somebody will take it into their own hands, and they’ll get suspended more than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years. It’ll be pretty ironic when that happens, because I’m sure that’s how it will end up playing out.’’