The Houston Astros created a controversy when they blocked reporter Anthony Fenech from entering the clubhouse immediately after Wednesday’s game, apparently at the request of Justin Verlander.
Verlander pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 2005-2017. Fenech has been a beat reporter covering the Tigers for the Detroit Free Press since 2011. Fenech was blocked by the Astros from coming to interview Verlander after Detroit’s 2-1 win in Houston due to what the team described as “past history” between Verlander and the reporter.
— Detroit Free Press (@freep) August 22, 2019
MLB has spoken with the Astros to let them know Fenech should have been allowed to enter the clubhouse at the same time as all other reporters. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America said in a statement that it was “alarmed” by Houston’s decision.
Verlander addressed the matter on Twitter Thursday and accused Fenech of “unethical” past behavior
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
Accusing Fenech of “unethical behavior” is a serious matter, but Verlander has not offered more background regarding his accusation.
Verlander did express some frustration last year with the Free Press’ portrayal of an issue he had with the Tigers over an injury. However, the initial article was not written by Fenech. There is also some speculation that Verlander was retaliating on behalf of teammate Alex Bregman.
Fenech reported on Aug. 4 that the Tigers turned down a chance to trade Michael Fulmer for Bregman in 2017. Bregman called that report “false”.
— Alex Bregman (@ABREG_1) August 5, 2019
Despite Bregman’s denial, Fenech wrote a second article discussing the trade that Detroit turned down in 2017. The article was published on Tuesday morning, in the middle of the series between the Tigers and Astros, and the day before Verlander’s start against his former team.
Bregman’s previous denial of the trade via Twitter makes it clear he was irritated by the report. It’s possible he was bothered that Fenech brought the matter up a second time, which led Verlander to take action. This Bregman matter is just speculation, but it adds some background and context to stories Fenech has written that relate to Verlander’s Astros.
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