Fiers greeted with cheers before 1st spring start

    Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for and ESPN Radio 1000.

MESA, AZ — Oakland Athletics starter Mike Fiers got a warm reception from the crowd at the A’s spring training home before taking the mound for his first start since blowing the lid on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal this past winter.

Considering he wasn’t coming to the plate to hit due to the designated hitter, the only chance for the crowd to hear Fiers name was when it was announced as part of the starting lineup. He got a louder ovation than any of the nine A’s starters announced before him — but that wasn’t a surprise to Fiers.

“Oakland is going to support us no matter what,” Fiers said after pitching two scoreless innings with one strikeout in his Sunday outing.

Fiers, 34, threw two scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants in a first attempt to move on from his headline-making offseason. “I try to put it behind me,” he said. “We have to focus on 2020. Our season is coming up pretty quick.”

Fiers was peppered with questions, alternating between how his spring is going on the mound to how he’s dealing with all the attention. He deflected as much as possible. “It’s all about going out there and playing baseball for everybody,” Fiers stated. “The rest will take care of itself.”

He was also asked what he thought of those who have been critical of him for coming forward, like former great David Ortiz.

“Everyone is going to have a comment, but I’m not worried about that,” Fiers responded. “I’m worried about playing baseball and pitching for this team.”

Fiers’ revelations led to an investigation and the eventual suspension and firings of Astros manager A.J Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. It also cost Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora their respective managerial jobs.

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