By GREG BEACHAM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Trout thinks the Houston Astros should pay more dearly for their cheating ways.
The Los Angeles Angels’ three-time AL MVP ripped the Astros and questioned the discipline handed out by Major League Baseball on Monday after he reported to spring training. Trout joined the chorus of prominent big leaguers angry about Houston’s rampant sign stealing on its way to the 2017 World Series title and beyond.
“It’s sad for baseball,” he said. “It’s tough. They cheated. I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because guys’ careers have been affected. A lot of people lost jobs. It was tough.
“Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming? It would be fun up there. A lot of guys lost respect for some of the guys.”
Trout said a few members of the Astros reached out to him during the offseason to explain their side, but Trout didn’t sound impressed.
“You don’t know what helped them or what not,” he said. “But if you know what’s coming, it’s going to definitely help them. I don’t know if you take the trophy away or take the rings away, but they should definitely do something.”
Trout doesn’t remember hearing the Astros banging on trash cans at Minute Maid Park during his nine big league seasons, all with the Angels in the AL West.
“I noticed the banging off the bat from center field,” Trout said. “It just feels like they weren’t missing pitches. It’s frustrating, because you have guys coming in here battling every day and working on stuff. … I can’t imagine what the pitchers feel like. It’s a mental game. You go in a stretch where you’re doing good, and you go into Houston and get banged up, it could mentally drain you.”
Trout didn’t make a suggestion for what the Astros players’ punishment should have been, but the scandal obviously touched a nerve in the Halos’ brilliant center fielder, who has spent his entire career trying to outhit the Astros.
“Obviously the GM got fired and Hinch got fired,” Trout said of punishments for Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. “But the players getting nothing, that’s definitely not right, for sure.”
“I think everybody wants it to be a clean, level playing field,” Trout added. “I didn’t know it wasn’t until this stuff came out, and then you realize when we played at them at (Houston) or whatever, they were hitting a lot of balls. They’ve got a lot of great players over there for sure, but it was something different.”
Anthony Rendon also reported to his new team Monday, but the Angels’ new $245 million third baseman was more circumspect in his thoughts on the Astros, his hometown team.
“Everyone is quick to hammer them down and just kill them,” Rendon said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror, and we’re not perfect people. Whether it’s a speeding ticket or whatever it might be, some of us are trying to get an edge some way or another in life. They happened to get caught for doing it. You can forgive them, but doesn’t mean you have to forget.”
Rendon has spent his career in the National League. His Washington Nationals beat Houston in a seven-game World Series last year.
“Even when I watched their games over the previous years, it was suspicious,” Rendon said. “It looked weird. They were (sitting) on balls that were very tough pitches, and just the way that they were playing the game. They’re all talented players. I love those guys over there, especially what they’ve done in my city of Houston to help us out. But it definitely raises a lot of question marks, watching those games.”
NOTES: Infielder Luis Rengifo went back to work after he was nearly traded to the Dodgers in a deal for outfielder Joc Pederson and pitcher Ross Stripling. “To be honest, I was ready to play wherever I landed,” Rengifo said through a translator. The Angels’ front office never contacted Rengifo to inform him about the potential deal, which was scrapped by owner Arte Moreno when it was delayed by the Dodgers’ other machinations. … The Angels agreed to a minor league contract with left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter. He had a 2.98 ERA in 64 appearances for Oakland last season.