Houston Astros

A's-Astros series in Oakland could have set tone for captivating season

A's-Astros series in Oakland could have set tone for captivating season

Could this benefit the Houston Astros? 

It's an insensitive question I've been asked quite a bit since the coronavirus pandemic placed a halt on the sports world.

Tuesday would have been a day where the A's would host the Houston Astros in Oakland before the season was postponed.

It has been over four months since A's pitcher Mike Fiers blew the whistle on Houston's cheating ways. In an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Fiers admitted the Astros would steal signs electronically during their 2017 World Series run. Fiers was on the team during the championship season.

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said. 

Time has passed, but people have forgetten. Not fans, not the media and especially not the players.

When Fiers arrived at A's media availability the day prior to FanFest in January, his teammates were there to support him. His manager, Bob Melvin, was there to support him as well. And after he made a joke to fans at Jack London Square he was staying off the internet during the offseason, it appeared green and gold fans also had his back.

Players like Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer have been outspoken about how important players like Fiers are to the game. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred echoed those sentiments saying not only was he important to bringing the information to light, but said this would have gone public one day. Fiers just sped up the process. 

The time that has passed, and will pass before the season goes back to the way it was, will not be a time to move on from this. This happened.

The world is going through some unthinkable circumstances at the moment. Circumstances that do not compare to banging on trash cans or buzzers under uniforms.

[RELATED: Fiers looks to mentor Puk, Luzardo this season]

But when the Astros take the field, they'll know the world will be watching, and we'll remember the attempt Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman made to apologize on behalf of their teammates during spring training. The baseball faithful will be happy the sport is back, and we can hope we all remain healthy during that wait.

An A's-Astros matchup would have created the overall tone of the season stretching beyond just Fiers facing his former team. 

But we won't forget. 

Astros' Justin Verlander shut down with mild lat strain before season

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USATSI

Astros' Justin Verlander shut down with mild lat strain before season

The A's series with the Houston Astros starting March 30 just became interesting for more reasons than noted whistleblower Mike Fiers

Astros ace Justin Verlander sustained a mild lat strain Sunday and has been shut down for the foreseeable future. Verlander said Monday that this isn't the worst-case scenario, but Opening Day seems in doubt. 

“I would say it would probably take a miracle for me to be back by Opening Day," Verlander told reporters on Monday. 

Verlander went into Sunday with hopes of pitching four innings in his spring training start against the New York Mets. However, he had to be removed after two innings with right triceps soreness. It's clear now what was bugging the two-time Cy Young award winner. 

If Verlander does miss Opening Day, he very well could be out against the A's when Houston travels to Oakland from March 30 to April 1. Verlander would be scheduled to start in the Astros' second game against the A's if he were to pitch on Opening Day. 

[RELATED: Puk has no targeted date to start throwing again for A's]

This will be the first time Oakland faces Houston since A's pitcher Mike Fiers opened the gates on the Astros' sign-stealing scandal. Fans will be in full force at the Coliseum in what should be a rowdy environment. 

With Gerrit Cole now on the New York Yankees, the Astros will lean on Verlander and Zack Greinke to lead the rotation as they look to top the A's for their fourth straight AL West title.

Mike Fiers gets warm reception in first appearance since outing Astros

Mike Fiers gets warm reception in first appearance since outing Astros

If Sunday afternoon was any indication, the public has Mike Fiers' back.

In the A's right-hander's first appearance of spring training and first time toeing the rubber since blowing the whistle on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, Fiers was cheered by the fans when he took the field against the Giants at Hohokam Park.

Fiers, who has received criticism from some and even death threats, said it was nice to feel the support from the fans.

While the reception was nice, Fiers is focused on the A's reaching new heights in 2020.

“I try to put it behind me. We have to focus on 2020," Fiers said, via MLB.com. "Our season is coming up pretty quick, so we need to focus on baseball and get ready,” Fiers said. “In the past, we’ve started off slow and it’s halted us late in the year. The earlier we can get ready, the better off we’re going to be.”

On the mound, Fiers worked two efficient innings. He threw 19 pitches (12 strikes) and retired all six batters he faced.

[RELATED: Puk's filthy K of Bryant shows how special lefty can be]

Fiers might face a different reaction when it's not a spring training game, but for now, it appears the fans are glad Fiers outed the Astros.

The Astros will visit the A's from March 30-April 1 in the second series of the season.