Oakland Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers said he isn’t interested in receiving extra security protection through the 2020 season during an interview with The Athletic on Wednesday.
Fiers divulged details about how the Houston Astros used a sign-stealing system during the 2017 season last November, leading to sanctions against his former club and drawing criticism in some corners for violating the “unwritten rules” of baseball.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that “we will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he’s playing, whether it’s in Houston or somewhere else.”
But Fiers isn’t looking for that type of help.
“I’m not asking for extra security,” Fiers told The Athletic. “I’m here to play baseball and I can defend myself, if anything. We do have National League games, and I’m going to have to get into the box (to hit) just like everybody else. It’s part of the game. If they decide to throw at me, then they throw at me. There’s nothing much you can do about it.”
The 34-year-old Fiers didn’t foresee his whistleblowing decision leading to this loud of an uproar.
Players all around the majors are criticizing the methods of the Astros, with some saying their 2017 World Series crown should be vacated.
At the same type, Houston players are defending their championship and lashing back at the critics.
Others question why Fiers waited two years before speaking up.
As for Fiers, a conclusion to the madness would be just fine.
“We want this to be over. We want an even playing field. It’s not a personal thing,” Fiers said. “It’s just playing the game and respecting the game that we all grew up loving and just competing. Going out there and playing the game.”
Hearing the reactions and getting away from the situation is difficult for Fiers as everywhere he goes, it comes up.
“It’s kind of hard to not see it,” Fiers said. “Especially when reporters ask you, your team, whoever. Everyone’s on social media. Your teammates see that as well, and they’ll show you. So it’s kind of hard to stay away from it and focus on pitching for this team. At the end of the day, everyone wants an even playing field. Everyone wants to perform and win for their team. And that’s what we’re doing. It’s not much more than that.”
Emotions will be particularly tense when Oakland makes three road trips to Houston this season. The first is scheduled for April 24-26.
Fiers said he is not concerned for his safety in Houston.
“No. Everyone’s crazy — everyone can get crazy at a certain point if they don’t like something that you do,” Fiers said. “Listen ... everyone’s mad at (the Astros). There are teams that are mad. It doesn’t matter what it is, extra protection, I mean, what are you going to do? There’s not much you can do.”
Fiers compiled a career-best 15-4 record in 33 starts for Oakland last season. He pitched his second career no-hitter and finished with a 3.90 ERA.
He spent two-plus seasons with the Astros from 2015-17 and was able to detail the depth of the franchise’s sign-stealing system to MLB officials.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch was fired in the fallout of the scandal, and it also led to the Boston Red Sox parting ways with manager Alex Cora (Houston’s bench coach at the time) and the New York Mets moving on from recently hired manager Carlos Beltran (a Houston player at the time). Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow also was dismissed.
Luhnow and Hinch were suspended by MLB, which also fined the franchise $5 million and stripped the team of its draft picks in the first and second rounds over the next two seasons.
“I want to be really clear about this: Mike, who I do not know at all, did the industry a service,” Manfred told reporters Tuesday. “I do believe that we will be a better institution when we emerge at the end of this episode, and without a Mike Fiers, we probably would have had a very difficult time cleaning this up. It would have taken longer.
.”.. I have a real problem with anyone that suggests Mike did anything other than the right thing.”
—Field Level Media