Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman prepares to face Josh James as James pitched a live batting practice during baseball spring training Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo: AP)
Houston’s Alex Bregman was hit on the back by a breaking ball from St. Louis reliever Ramon Santos on Wednesday, the seventh Astros player plunked in five spring training games.
“It was a splitter,” Bregman said. “It just got away from him.”
Some opposing players have called for retaliation against the Astros following Major League Baseball’s finding that Houston broke rules against electronic sign-stealing en route to its 2017 World Series title and again in 2018.
Dustin Garneau was hit Sunday against Washington, and José Altuve was grazed Monday against Detroit, when Osvaldo Duarte and Alex De Goti also were hit. Aledmys Díaz and Jake Meyers were hit Tuesday by Miami.
Santos’ 1-0 pitch in the fifth inning struck Bregman on the left shoulder blade. The two-time All-Star trotted to first, then was replaced by a pinch runner.
“I think I got hit like 10 times last year, or something like that,” Bregman said. “One of them got me good last year, but that one was just a split-finger.”
Bregman hit his first homer of spring training, a tying solo shot in the third on an 0-2 pitch from Angel Rondon. Houston hit four homers in a 7-5 loss to the Cardinals in a split-squad game for both sides.
Houston pitching coach Brent Strom was ejected by plate umpire Mike Eastabrook in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
“I could tell it was brewing,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “Some of those pitches were kind of close for a spring training game. He called a good game, but it was tight, a tight zone.”
At the Astros’ split-squad game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, George Springer was showered with loud boos when he stepped into the batter’s box a bit too early.
Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard turned and looked at the scoreboard clock that showed 1:09 p.m. — he waited for the minute to change so the game would officially reach the 1:10 start time, leaving Springer nowhere to go as the crowd heckled him.
“Cheater! Cheater! Cheater!” one Mets fan along the first-base side chanted at Springer.