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Astros sued by former reliever in sign-stealing scandal

LOS ANGELES — Former major league pitcher Mike Bolsinger sued the Houston Astros on Monday, claiming their sign-stealing scheme contributed to a poor relief appearance in August 2017 that essentially ended his big league career.

Bolsinger’s suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks unspecified damages for interfering with and harming his career. He’s also asking that the Astros forfeit their nearly $30 million in postseason shares from their 2017 World Series title, with the money going to children’s charities in Los Angeles and a fund for needy retired players.

According to the suit, Bolsinger, then a reliever with the Toronto Blue Jays, was put into a game at Houston on Aug. 4, 2017, and allowed four runs, four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning in a 16-7 loss. The suit said the right-hander “was immediately terminated and cut from the team, never to return to Major League Baseball again.”

He was demoted to Triple-A and hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since. He was 0-3 with a 6.31 ERA in 11 appearances with Toronto in 2017. The 32-year-old pitched in Japan in 2018-19, and is seeking a job with a big league club for this season.

The Astros didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Commissioner Rob Manfred found the Astros broke rules against electronic sign stealing in 2017, including during the postseason. Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired last month.

According to MLB’s investigation, the Astros used a video feed to steal opposing teams’ signs and then tipped off their batters to off-speed pitches by banging on a garbage can.

According to Bolsinger’s lawsuit, graphic designer and web developer Tony Adams wrote a web application to document every instance of banging on a trash can during Astros home games in 2017. He found that the most bangs occurred in that Aug. 4, 2017, game, including on 12 of 29 pitches Bolsinger threw, the lawsuit said.

Hinch told the media that night that it was “not unusual for us to have big nights when we put good at-bats together,” according to the lawsuit.

Bolsinger also pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in his four-year career, going 8-19 with a 4.92 ERA.

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