A judge Friday put limits on what attorneys for a former Major League Baseball pitcher who sued the Houston Astros –alleging the team’s sign-stealing scheme caused him to have a disastrous outing in Houston — can ask during depositions of the team owner and an executive.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Robert S. Draper said lawyers for 32-year-old Mike Bolsinger had not shown proper legal grounds for questioning Astros owner Jim Crane or Derek Vigoa, the director of team operations, about the merits of the case, including the sign-stealing plan and MLB’s investigative report into what happened.
The Bolsinger lawyers will only be able to ask about information that would show whether a California court has jurisdiction over the pair, including where the two lived when the suit was filed Feb. 10 and where they have bank accounts.
They can then use the deposition testimony in opposing the Astros’ motion to dismiss the case and quash summons on Crane and Vigoa, who the defense maintain do not have ties to California that would give a court here jurisdiction to order depositions on the merits of the case.
The Astros also have a second motion that maintains Bolsinger’s suit should be dismissed on grounds all the parties and the totality of the evidence are in Texas and that the case should have been brought there. Both motions are scheduled to be heard Feb. 1.
Bolsinger also played with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Astros employed the sign-stealing scheme — which involved a video camera trained on opposing catchers and a system of banging on trash cans to alert Houston batters about the type of pitch about to be thrown — while he was pitching in an Aug. 4, 2017, game, according to the suit.
During that outing for the Blue Jays, Bolsinger gave up four runs while recording only one out, the suit claims, adding that 12 of the 29 pitches he threw were preceded by banging noises from the Astros’ dugout, a noise now known to have been used to alert batters that an off-speed pitch was about to be thrown.
After the game, Bolsinger was demoted to the minor leagues, and he wound up moving to play overseas in Japan, according to the lawsuit. The suit contends that the disastrous inning in Houston was “the death knell” to Bolsinger’s MLB career.
“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,” according to the lawsuit.
A Major League Baseball investigation concluded in January that the Astros used the camera system to illegally steal signs during the 2017 season. Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were initially suspended by the league, but were subsequently fired by the Astros.
Hinch was hired in October as manager of the Detroit Tigers.
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