Former MLB pitcher sues Astros over sign-stealing scheme

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Mike Bolsinger #49 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during a baseball game in May 2017. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images.

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LOS ANGELES — A former Major League Baseball pitcher sued the Houston Astros Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying the team’s sign-stealing scheme caused him to have a disastrous outing in Houston, leading to the demise of his MLB career.

Mike Bolsinger, who had stints with the Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays, claims in his lawsuit that the Astros employed the sign-stealing scheme — which involved a video camera trained on opposing catchers and a system of banging on trash cans to alert Houston batters about the type of pitch about to be thrown — while he was pitching in an Aug. 4, 2017, game.

During that outing for the Blue Jays, Bolsinger gave up four runs while recording only one out, the suit claims, adding that 12 of the 29 pitches he threw were preceded by banging noises from the Astros’ dugout, a noise now known to have been used to alert batters that an off-speed pitch was about to be thrown.

“I don’t know if I’ve had a worse outing in my professional career,” Bolsinger told USA Monday. “I remember saying, `It was like they knew what I was throwing. They’re laying off pitches they weren’t laying off before. It’s like they knew what was coming.’ That was the thought in my head. I felt like I didn’t have a chance.”

Astros officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

After the game, Bolsinger was demoted to the minor leagues, and he wound up moving to play overseas in Japan, according to the lawsuit. The suit contends that the disastrous inning in Houston was “the death knell” to Bolsinger’s MLB career.

“Due to the inning against the Houston Astros, plaintiff Bolsinger was no longer seen as a successful relief pitcher that could be trusted in this role and was not picked up by the Blue Jays for the following year,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but it requests that team pay $31 million — the approximate amount of bonuses received by winning the 2017 World Series title against the Dodgers — and direct the money to Los Angeles-area charities.

A Major League Baseball investigation concluded last month that the Astros used the camera system to illegally steal signs during the 2017 season. Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were initially suspended by the league, but they were subsequently fired by the Astros.

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