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Justin Verlander gets Astros to ban reporter from clubhouse over ‘unethical behavior’


The Astros blocked a reporter from entering their clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request on Wednesday night. The pitcher had told the team that he would not speak to media if Detroit Free Press writer Anthony Fenech was there, and Astros security blocked Fenech from entering.

Astros communications officials told the Free Press that Verlander was “adamant” that he wouldn’t speak to any media if Fenech was there, and so the team banned Fenech from the clubhouse while letting other media in. It’s still unclear exactly what the beef is between the pitcher and the writer is, but Verlander tweeted Thursday morning that he didn’t want to talk to Fenech “because of his unethical behavior in the past.”

Verlander likely knows Fenech well, as he pitched for the Tigers from 2005-17. Fenech has been a Tigers beat writer since 2015.

While Verlander has the right to not talk to any media member he dislikes, the Astros can’t just ban credentialed writers from the clubhouse. That was quickly apparent Wednesday night. The Astros opened the clubhouse at 9:35 p.m. and were able to keep Fenech out for just six minutes while the Free Press contacted MLB, according to the paper. But that was enough, as Verlander’s postgame session was over by the time Fenech got in.

As the Free Press points out, banning credentialed reporters is in violation of the collective bargaining agreement and MLB agreements with the Baseball Writers Association of America. The BBWAA and Astros have yet to comment publicly, while the Free Press said “Blocking a working reporter from doing his job is unprofessional, disappointing and intolerable.”

The game itself was fascinating, as Verlander pitched a complete game two-hitter but lost, 2-1, on two solo homers by the Tigers. Verlander now leads the American League in both ERA and home runs allowed, something that hasn’t happened since 1977 and only twice since 1901. The first question the next time he faces media probably won’t be about that.