Los Angeles — Former major league pitcher Mike Bolsinger sued the Houston Astros on Monday, claiming their sign-stealing scheme contributed to a poor relief appearance in August 2017 that essentially ended his big league career.
Bolsinger’s suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks unspecified damages for interfering with and harming his career. He’s also asking that the Astros forfeit their nearly $30 million in postseason shares from their 2017 World Series title, with the money going to children’s charities in Los Angeles and a fund for needy retired players.
According to the suit, Bolsinger, then a reliever with the Blue Jays, was put into a game at Houston on Aug. 4, 2017, and allowed four runs, four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning in a 16-7 loss.
The suit said the right-hander “was immediately terminated and cut from the team, never to return to Major League Baseball again.”
He was demoted to Triple-A and hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since. He was 0-3 with a 6.31 ERA in 11 appearances with Toronto in 2017. The 32-year-old pitched in Japan in 2018-19, and is seeking a job with a big league club for this season.
The Astros didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Commissioner Rob Manfred found the Astros broke rules against electronic sign stealing in 2017, including during the postseason. Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired last month.
According to MLB’s investigation, the Astros used a video feed to steal opposing teams’ signs and then tipped off their batters to off-speed pitches by banging on a garbage can.
According to Bolsinger’s lawsuit, graphic designer and web developer Tony Adams wrote a web application to document every instance of banging on a trash can during Astros home games in 2017. He found that the most bangs occurred in that Aug. 4, 2017, game, including on 12 of 29 pitches Bolsinger threw, the lawsuit said.
Hinch told the media that night that it was “not unusual for us to have big nights when we put good at-bats together,” according to the lawsuit.
Bolsinger also pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in his four-year career, going 8-19 with a 4.92 ERA.
Tanaka not happy
Masahiro Tanaka feels cheated by the Astros.
Tanaka’s Yankees lost to the Astros in a seven-game AL Championship Series in 2017.
Manfred found the Astros broke rules against electronic sign stealing in 2017, including during the postseason.
“Yeah, I do feel that way,” the Yankees pitcher said through a translator Monday after working out at the team’s minor league complex.
Houston won all four home games against the Yankees in the playoffs, when the Astros players had the advantage of the sign-stealing system, and lost all three in the Bronx. The scores of the first two games were both 2-1.
“It’s a competition, and the competition should be a fair competition,” Tanaka said. “There was a little bit of thought of, was there something going on and once you hear the news, then it’s like ‘oh, there was actually something going on.’”
Tanaka noted that the Yankees adjusted their pitching sign procedures in last year’s AL Championship Series against Houston.
“We were actually being cautious about it,” Tanaka said.
“So, just changing up the signs, making it a little bit more complex.”
Tanaka said it is difficult to say how the recent developments will impact how he looks back at 2017.
“You never know what would have happened, but at the same time you can say that what happened might not have happened,” Tanaka said. “I don’t know if mad is the right word, but it’s something that’s out of the rules. They’re not, obviously, abiding by the rules.”
Tanaka hopes the sanctions placed on the Astros will eliminate the situation in baseball.
Poll: Astros should lose title
The Astros’ should vacate their 2017 World Series championship over the sign-stealing scheme that has rocked the MLB, say a majority of people surveyed in the Seton Hall Sports Poll.
The more than 650 adults surveyed in early February came down hard on cheaters in general, with well over 80% saying teams that break the rules to gain an unfair advantage over an opponent “really hurts the game.”
“We very rarely get that kind of support in the 80s,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is run out of Seton Hall University.
“I found it comforting that there was overall negativity about cheating.”
The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3.9%.
Around the horn
The Diamondbacks capped a busy offseason by locking down their two-time Gold Glove shortstop, who has slowly turned into a solid offensive threat.
The D-backs announced Monday that they’ve agreed to a $32.5 million, four-year deal with Nick Ahmed that runs through the 2023 season. The 29-year-old Ahmed was eligible for salary arbitration and had his hearing scheduled for Wednesday, but that won’t be needed thanks to the deal.
Ahmed said his comfort in Arizona — along with the team’s offseason moves that included adding pitcher Madison Bumgarner and outfielder Kole Calhoun — made staying with the Diamondbacks very appealing.
... Athletics right-hander Daniel Mengden underwent surgery on his pitching elbow on Monday.
Mengden was 5-2 with a save and a 4.83 ERA in 13 games.