The Houston Astros violated the MLB collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday when they blocked a Detroit Free Press reporter from interviewing pitcher Justin Verlander after his loss to the Tigers in Houston.
”Per our Club-Media Regulations, the reporter should have been allowed to enter the clubhouse postgame at the same time as the other members of the media,” MLB vice president of communications Mike Teevan said in a statement Thursday. “We have communicated this to the Astros.”
The Club-Media Regulations are part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the violation was actionable.
Verlander defended himself on Thursday after asking his club to block Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from postgame availability following the Detroit Tigers’ 2-1 win Wednesday night.
The Astros allowed reporters from Houston to speak with Verlander for six minutes after Wednesday’s game while three security officials stood between Fenech and the entrance to the Astros’ clubhouse.
The Astros gave Fenech access to the clubhouse after Verlander’s media session was over, violating the Club-Media Regulations. The Astros have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
“I declined to speak with the @freep rep last night because of his unethical behavior in the past,” Verlander said. ”I reached out to the @freep multiple times before the game to notify them why and to give them an opportunity to have someone else there. Ironically they didn’t answer.
”Although I tried to avoid this situation altogether, I’ve still reached out to @freep multiple times today with no response. They’re still not interested in my side of the story.”
Although I tried to avoid this situation altogether, I’ve still reached out to @freep multiple times today with no response. They’re still not interested in my side of the story.— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) August 22, 2019
Mark Pieper, Verlander’s agent, told the Free Press on Thursday that he made multiple calls to the newspaper on Wednesday. He left one voicemail for sports editor Chris Thomas at around noon Wednesday and one voicemail for Thomas and Free Press executive editor Peter Bhatia on Thursday morning. Pieper did not send an email to either editor, until reaching Thomas on Thursday afternoon.
Gene Dias, Astros vice president of communications, confirmed on Wednesday that Fenech was blocked at Verlander’s request. Dias said Verlander was “adamant” that he would not speak to any credentialed media while Fenech was present.
Fenech has been the Tigers beat writer for the Free Press since 2015.
On Thursday, Verlander tweeted that the block stemmed from ”unethical behavior in the past.” Verlander did not mention Fenech by name.
Baseball Writers’ Association of America president Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic said the organization was “alarmed” by the incident.
”This action by the Astros violated the MLB club-media regulations, which are laid out in the collective bargaining agreement, and the BBWAA expects MLB to respond accordingly and promptly,” he said Thursday according to the Associated Press.
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