‘Everyone knows they stole the ring from us’ – Daily News



GLENDALE, Ariz. >> Justin Turner stood at his locker surrounded by reporters. Mookie Betts’ locker was just a few feet away.

But the questions did not center on the Dodgers’ acquisition of the former MVP. It was still the reverberations from the sign-stealing scandal and the Houston Astros’ attempts to take responsibility.

“Obviously this isn’t going to go away,” Turner said Friday, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. “There’s going to be questions dragging on for a long time and we’re going to try to focus on 2020 and get ready to win a championship this year.”

That might be the “mantra,” as Ross Stripling put it. But the emotions stirred up by the Astros’ press conference a day earlier were obvious.

“They’re not saying that they’re cheating,” reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger said. “They never said ‘No’ to the buzzers. They always just said the commissioner’s report. It’s kind of bizarre what’s been going on over there. We listened to that and the guy (Astros owner Jim Crane) said it wasn’t impacting the game — are you kidding me? You’re banging trash cans, knowing what pitch is coming? It definitely does.

“I know I personally lost respect for those guys. I would say everyone in the show, everyone in the big leagues lost respect for those guys. But then again, there is a time where people do make mistakes. You feel success, you’re getting money, you’re getting MVPs. It’s hard to turn that down. … Those guys are great players. I think everyone respected what they did. Now, man, it’s — what’s real, what’s not?

“I don’t know many people who respect them right now.”

Stripling revealed that a group chat among the Dodgers who played on the 2017 team against the Astros was re-ignited by the series of revelations and reverberations this offseason. The sentiments expressed were pretty similar to what the players have said publicly, Stripling said.

Bellinger held back very little Friday.

“I thought (MLB Commissioner Rob) Manfred’s punishment was weak, giving them immunity. I mean these guys were cheating for three years,” Bellinger said. “I think what people don’t realize is (Jose) Altuve stole an MVP from (Aaron) Judge in ’17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.”

The commissioner’s report found the Astros guilty of stealing signs in 2017 only. But Bellinger said he is “100 percent” convinced they continued in 2018 and 2019.

“I don’t know why they would stop,” he said.

There have been videos circulating online of Altuve’s walkoff home run in last year’s ALCS which show him waving off teammates and asking them not to rip off his jersey. That suspicious behavior has led to theories about Astros hitters wearing buzzers under their jerseys to get signals about the type of pitch coming.

“I don’t know what human hits a walkoff home run against Aroldis Chapman to send your team to the World Series and, one, has the thought to say ‘Don’t rip my jersey off’ but, two, go into the tunnel, change your shirt and then come to do your interview. That makes no sense to me. Makes zero sense,” Bellinger said.

“Gary Sanchez said yesterday, ‘You can rip my shirt off, my pants off.’ If I sent my team to the World Series off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning at home? … I’m going crazy.”

One of the first thoughts Stripling said he had last week when it looked like he might be traded to the Angels was that he would be facing the Astros in the AL West and whether he would take that opportunity to register his disapproval with a fastball to the ribs.

“I would lean toward — yes,” he said, adding that it would have to be the right time and place.

Alex Wood (who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Game 4 in the 2017 World Series) said retribution from opposing pitchers is likely — and pointed up an ironic twist.

“I mean, they messed with a lot of guys lives,” Wood said. “I don’t condone that type of behavior. We certainly 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 games 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.”

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