Joe Maddon claims Angels won’t seek vigilante justice against Astros: ‘Let’s be civil and move on’

TEMPE, Ariz. – As division rivals of the Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Angels were victimized more than almost any team by the 2017 World Series champions’ rules-breaking sign-stealing scheme, and their players have been among the most vocal amid a significant uproar this spring.

Now, Angels manager Joe Maddon wants to position any pitches thrown by his staff against the Astros as anything but purposeful.

Maddon said Saturday that he plans to meet with his pitchers and urge them to avoid vigilante justice in a 2020 season where seven of their first 10 games are against the Astros. Given the scrutiny with which even meaningless Grapefruit League games have received when Astros not even involved with the scheme have been hit by pitches, the world will be watching closely.

So, too, will Major League Baseball, with commissioner Rob Manfred stating he plans to ramp up punishments for what his office may determine are purpose pitches, be they against the Astros or in more traditional retaliatory situations.

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Count us out, Maddon claims. The Angels and Astros open the season March 26 in Houston, with the Astros’ much-anticipated first road game coming April 3 in Anaheim.

“I’m going to have a talk with the boys about not doing anything,” says Maddon. “I think it’s more appropriate to play the game. This has been bandied about enough. It’s been sliced and diced and in the Veg-o-matic long enough. Let’s go play baseball. Let’s get things back together properly. Let’s be civil about this and move on.

“MLB and the commissioner’s office has been working on a myriad of things to make this game better and more even and I’m into it, because I think the more level the playing field, the better off we’re going to be. I believe we’re going to play really good baseball and on a nightly basis we’ve got to play better baseball than your team was.  If there’s cheating involved, if there’s substance abuse involved, I’d rather that be even-Steven and we’ll take it from there.”

Manager Joe Maddon is in his first year as manager of the Angels. (Photo: Rick Scuteri, USA TODAY Sports)

Maddon and the Angels have met with former pitcher Chris Young, now MLB’s vice president of on-field operations, and Maddon calls him “a good man to trust in this moment” as baseball undergoes yet another cultural shift.

At the same time, Maddon also knows Young’s office will have a devilish time determining intent, be it in an Astros game or any of the other 2,430 games in a season.

Additionally, regardless of whatever Maddon may tell his team, he also has only so much control over what a scorned hurler may do. Particularly in the teams’ final 12 meetings, when the early-season scrutiny has faded.

Greetings from Tempe, Ariz., where #Angels manager Joe Madden says he will meet with pitchers before season and discourage retaliation vs. #Astros, noting #MLB vigilance and a desire to move on.
“If we can set the right example out of the box, that would be impactful.”

“There will be a tumultuous uproar if we hit somebody, and I get that, even though it’s not going to be intentional,” Maddon insists. “It’s just the way the world works these days. These people need controversy to feed their lives, daily.

“But I’m telling you right now that’s not gonna be what I’m talking to the guys about. I wasn’t here last year, I wasn’t a part of this division last year. There could be some undercurrent, and I get that.

“However, if we can set the right example out of the chute, that could be impactful. If anybody gets hit on their side of it, that’s really because somebody may have gone inside, and people get hit in baseball.”

Now, he can only hope MLB believes it should any Astros wear one against the Angels in 2020.

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