By Frank Pingue
TORONTO (Reuters) – Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger sued the Houston Astros on Monday asserting that the team’s sign stealing system during their World Series-winning 2017 season ended his Major League Baseball career.
The Astros fired their manager and general manager last month after MLB suspended them each for a year over a system used by the team to steal pitch signs from opposing catchers during the 2017 season.
At one point, a monitor was installed near the Houston dugout so players could watch, figure out the signs and then hit a trash can with a bat to signal to their batter what type of pitch was coming, MLB said.
In a civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Texas native accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations.
The Astros did not immediately respond when asked to comment.
According to the lawsuit, which was emailed to Reuters by Bolsinger’s attorney, a particularly rough outing against the Astros “cost him his job, as he was immediately sent down to Triple A after the game never to be called up again”.
In the August 2017 game, which proved to be the last of Bolsinger’s MLB career, the relief pitcher surrendered four runs, four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning of a 16-7 Astros victory.
“Due to the inning against the Houston Astros, Plaintiff Bolsinger was no longer seen as a successful relief pitcher that could be trusted in this role and was not picked up by the Blue Jays for the following year,” the lawsuit read.
According to the lawsuit, which referenced a report documenting each instance of banging on a trash can from 2017, the highest number occurred during the August game in which Bolsinger appeared, including on 12 of the 29 pitches he threw.
The 32-year-old is seeking unspecified damages for himself and wants the Astros to hand over roughly $31 million in playoff bonuses to children’s charities and for elderly retired baseball players in need of financial assistance.
Bolsinger, who went 0-3 with a 6.31 earned-run average in 11 appearances with Toronto during the 2017 season, went on to play professionally in Japan from 2018-19 and is currently a free agent.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)