As we slog through 2020 spring training, the Astros cheating scandal remains inescapable. The Astros didn't play many regulars in their first two spring games, but Monday against the Tigers, new manager Dusty Baker rolled out a lineup that featured most of Houston's star position players, including Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.
Altuve was the first well-known Astro to step in a batter's box since the scandal, and we got a bit of a glimpse as to how things are going to go moving forward. Altuve's welcome, as expected, was not warm.
Here's how it sounded at the Tigers' spring training home in Lakeland, Florida:
Keep in mind the spring crowds are generally much more tame than regular season crowds. Also of note, Altuve has long been one of the more popular players in baseball. It's not like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado getting booed here. Altuve was pretty widely beloved before the sign-stealing scandal.
I'd expect things get a bit more intense when it comes to how opposing crowds react to Astros players in the regular season. It'll eventually go away, though, and at the end of the day, it's just noise from a crowd.
Altuve actually was hit by a pitch on his third plate appearance Monday, but it was unintentional. An off-speed pitch got away from Tigers reliever Nick Ramirez and it hit Altuve on the lower leg. Still, an HBP in Altuve's first game of the spring is bound to draw the eyeballs of many aggrieved baseball fans.
Altuve, 29, hit .298/.353/.550 (131 OPS+) with 31 homers and 74 RBI in 124 games last season. The 2017 AL MVP has three batting titles and has led the league in hits four times. I'd expect him to hit well again in 2020.
While the Astros continue to wear this, the Red Sox are also under investigation for a similar scandal during the 2018 season. MLB is expected to announce the results of its investigation into the Red Sox this week.