White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi, who appeared in three games for the Dodgers in the 2017-18 regular season, said Thursday that he told team officials earlier this week he felt like he was used for no more than batting practice.
Noesi apparently blew the whistle, as soon as the Chicago Tribune broke the news about the Astros allegedly posting video of a pitching machine spitting fastballs at Angels prospect Zack Cozart.
“It definitely has been an open secret for a while,” Noesi told WGN-TV’s Brian Becker. “I heard about it in spring training last year. I even complained to a few people. Nobody gave me a straight answer. To me, it’s strange.”
Noesi said he pitched only three innings in 2017 and 17 innings in 2018. According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, he wanted to play winter ball, but was offered a bargain role as a late-season fill-in for the White Sox. Noesi grew frustrated when Chicago declined to offer him a multiyear contract or give him guaranteed money. Instead, he was paid a base salary of $1 million in 2018, according to Fox Sports, and will make $1.4 million this season.
The Astros were reportedly trying to avoid losing the July 25 non-waiver trade deadline by the slightest of margins. Adding Noesi was nothing but obvious.
That motivation became public knowledge Monday when ABC Sports reported the Astros posted video of Houston pitcher Doug Fister shooting his high-velocity curveball at Cozart. Former pitching coach Larry Rothschild was told about it by bullpen coach Doug Brocail, who told him that he had seen it on television, according to the report.
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The Dodgers were among the teams that presumably knew about the Astros’ use of the practice machine, as there was no way they would not at least have been aware of what was happening in Los Angeles.
The Astros were surprised by what happened but were steadfast that Noesi never directly told them about the video they posted of Fister on Twitter. Houston pitching coach Brent Strom responded to the uproar in a statement on Thursday afternoon:
“Hector and I have communicated our mutual experiences on video/pellet research, pitching machine operations and other aspects of becoming a pitcher for us here at Minute Maid Park,” Strom said. “But from our initial conversation, Hector was unaware of the existence of any outside video related to his workouts and we were unaware of Hector being aware of any, and agree with him that video (streamed online in December 2017) did not exist.”
The Sox issued a statement of their own on Thursday.
“We became aware of Hector’s concerns when he revealed them to our front office and we are disappointed he shared them with the media,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We do not condone illegal activity by our players, and we are fully cooperating with Major League Baseball and all appropriate authorities.”
The Dodgers, who defeated the Astros in the National League Championship Series, didn’t necessarily play them dirty. Houston beat the Dodgers twice in the NL Division Series, on the backs of wayward first baseman Eric Hosmer and shortstop Carlos Correa.