Houston Astros

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.

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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.

Mike Fiers told J.D. Martinez about Astros cheating before 2018 ALCS

Mike Fiers told J.D. Martinez about Astros cheating before 2018 ALCS

November wasn't the first time A's pitcher Mike Fiers blew the whistle about the Houston Astros' sign-stealing nature.

After the Astros won the 2017 World Series thanks to a lot of help from trash cans, they returned to the American League Championship Series to face the Boston Red Sox. But if the Astros still were cheating, it didn't matter because the Red Sox knew it was coming. And not just because then-manager Alex Cora was part of the Astros' scheme the year prior.

"Alex Cora never influenced us and never told us about that thing," Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez told WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria." "The only way I ever found out was in the playoffs was when Fiers, who is a really good friend of mine, reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, make sure you’re doing this because this, because this is what these guys are doing in the playoffs.' I was like, 'What? How is this a thing?' And then I mentioned it to (Cora) and he told kind of me about the whole system and everything like that. That was kind of why it was so crazy. (Cora) was so relaxed going into those playoff games because he knew and we were ready for it."

Fiers also alerted the A's to the scheme in 2018 and they brought it to the league. It was only when nothing was done that Fiers went public to make sure the playing field was leveled.

That's why David Ortiz's comments Thursday in which he said he disagreed with Fiers outing Houston two years after he won the World Series with them were so misguided.

Fiers tried to go about the matter quietly and even helped make sure Ortiz's old team was prepared for what awaited them in the ALCS. He could have spoken up in 2017, but he tried to right those wrongs in 2018 before making sure the Astros had their trash cans confiscated.

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The Astros were able to bang their trash cans to one title, but Fiers made sure they wouldn't be able to repeat using the same old tricks.

Mike Fiers reveals he has received death threats amid Astros scandal

Mike Fiers reveals he has received death threats amid Astros scandal

Mike Fiers has been the center of the MLB offseason after he exposed the Astros for their participation in electronic sign-stealing back in 2017 during their World Series run.

However, as a result of blowing the whistle on Houston's wrongdoings, the A's pitcher has been subject to violent threats. But he says he's used to it.

“Whatever, I don’t care. I’ve dealt with a lot of death threats before. It’s just another thing on my plate,” Fiers told The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on Thursday.

Fiers' comments come two days after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the media in Scottsdale, Ariz. and stressed the fact he would work to ensure the safety of Fiers.

While Fiers could be subject to retaliation by the Astros, he is trying to tune it out. He is doing his best to avoid social media and prepare for the season. He told The Athletic on Wednesday that he doesn't want extra security.

But the A's right-hander knows he can't prepare for what's going to happen, if anything will. But he did tell Slusser that he is fully aware he was equally a part of that Astros team that cheated in 2017.

“I said from the beginning, ‘I’m not away from this. I was part of that team, I was one of those guys,’ ” he said. “Suspensions, fines -- I’m willing to take as much punishment as they do. If they ask me to (return the World Series ring), it’s not the end of the world.”

Those across the league have been open and honest in support of Fiers coming forward. Manfred himself said he did a service to the industry.

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But clearly, there still is a faction of fans, players, and former players who disagree.

Former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said Thursday he had an issue with how Fiers revealed the allegations, saying that the A's pitcher looked like a "snitch" for how he handled it.

Regardless, Fiers is concentrating on what he needs to do to have a successful 2020 campaign, a season that is filled with promise for Oakland. 

Baseball has been the perfect distraction from it all.