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Nicholas Castellanos on Comerica Park: ‘This park’s a joke’

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Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos hit a walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning on Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, he wasn’t a happy camper. Talking to the press after the game, Castellanos used his platform to bash Comerica Park. Per 97.1 The Ticket, Castellanos said, “This park’s a joke. It’s to the point where, how are we going to be compared to the rest of the people in the league for power numbers and OPS and slugging and all this stuff, when we’ve got a yard out here that’s 420 feet straight across to center field? We get on second base, third base, and (opposing players) looking like, ‘how do you guys do this?’ We play 81 games here, I don’t want to hear it about your two you hit that are questionable.”

Castellanos added, “There’s no reason that I hit a ball 434 feet off Aníbal Sánchez and it goes in the first row. That shouldn’t happen.” He is referencing the June 28 home run he hit off of the Nationals’ pitcher.

Castellanos, 27, is batting .284/.342/.480 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 409 plate appearances this season. He leads the majors with 34 doubles. A free agent after the season, the 30-65 Tigers seem quite likely to trade Castellanos to a contender ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. The Cubs have reportedly expressed interest. In the event Castellanos does leave Detroit, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be all that broken up about it.

Interestingly enough, Castellanos — who has spent his entire career with the Tigers — has slightly better numbers at home than on the road, with an .808 home OPS and a .766 road OPS. Baseball Reference has Comerica Park’s one-year batting park factor at 104. 100 is set as the average and anything over is considered above-average. Its multi-year park factor is 101. As a point of comparison, the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park is at 102 for both its one-year and multi-year batting park factors.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.