Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros have gotten some heat Thursday, one day after the team allegedly blocked Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech’s access to the pitcher’s post-game media availability following a surprising loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The publication is arguing it was possibly a violation of the MLB collective bargaining agreement and that it violated Baseball Writers’ Association of America protocol.
Verlander tossed a complete game with 11 strikeouts Wednesday against the Tigers – the team that traded him to Houston in 2017 for prospects Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers – but the eight-time all-star allowed two solo home runs and the Astros lost the game 2-1 despite being massive betting favourites.
The 2011 AL Cy Young winner and three-time Cy Young runner-up spent the better part of 13 seasons as a star with the Tigers. Fenech has covered the Tigers for the Free Press since 2015, so he and Verlander are familiar with one another.
According to the Free Press, Astros vice president of communications Gene Dias relayed the message that Verlander wouldn’t speak to any credentialed members of the media if Fenech was present there.
“Blocking a working reporter from doing his job is unprofessional, disappointing and intolerable,” the publication’s executive editor Peter Bhatia told Free Press reporter Chris Thomas. “We will be protesting to MLB and the Astros.”
Verlander responded to the Free Press story Thursday in a pair of tweets, explaining that he declined to speak with Fenech due to past “unethical behaviour.”
It’s not entirely clear what the alleged “unethical behaviour” refers to.
According to the Free Press, Verlander, as of noon ET Thursday, had not contacted Fenech, the outlet’s executive editor Peter Bhatia or sports editor Chris Thomas.