Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
After splitting four games with the San Francisco Giants in their first series of the 2020 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers hit the road for a highly anticipated matchup against the Houston Astros.
The teams are set to meet for the first time since the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal came to light this past offseason. MLB concluded that Houston electronically stole signs over the course of their 2017 World Series run and punished various members of the organization.
Upon reporting to Camelback Ranch in February for the start of Spring Training, many Dodgers players did not hold back when sharing their thoughts on the Astros. However, the consensus among the clubhouse was leaving the past in the past and solely focusing on the 2020 season.
Cody Bellinger maintained that stance ahead of the series. “No, I don’t think so,” he said when asked if the matchup carries extra weight. “I think it feels so long ago. For me personally, I’m just ready to go on to 2020 and continue to just play baseball with the guys in this clubhouse. It doesn’t matter who we’re facing.”
Justin Turner believes the two games are significant, but mostly because of how crucial each contest is in the abbreviated schedule. “Well, I think in this 60-game season, every game means a ton,” he began.
“Obviously, they’re on the schedule. We’re going to show up to Houston and do everything we can to beat those guys. I don’t think a lot of opinions or the way guys think has changed in this time. At the end of the day, we’re going to go out and try to win ballgames.”
Walker Buehler noted that the upcoming two-game set may feel more important to members of the Dodgers that were on the 2017 World Series roster. “I think organizationally that makes sense. I think the guys that were there and on that team obviously feel even stronger than some of us who weren’t there,” he said.
“But there’s some sense of pride in going there and trying to play good baseball to come out of there with a couple wins. I think every game is important, especially in this format, I guess it’s what, two and a half times more important for each game. So I think every game is huge and those are no different.”
Buehler, who is scheduled to make his first start of the season in Tuesday’s opener, explained how the long hiatus took some of the edge off hate towards the Astros.
“It was just going around, that’s all that everyone was talking about, and rightfully so, but again, I’ve reiterated every time that you guys have asked me about this, I wasn’t on that team,” he said.
“Obviously watching and now thinking back and now wanting the guys that were there to have experienced that and obviously our organization wanting to experience holding that trophy. But at the end of the day, that can’t change our mindset or how we look at trying to hold on this year.”
While some Dodgers players may still have the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in the back of their mind, manager Dave Roberts doesn’t believe he’ll need to remind anyone to check their emotions. “That’s one of those conversations that I really don’t think I need to have,” he said.
“I think if I did, myself, each one of us wouldn’t be doing a good job of understanding what’s really important to help us win baseball games in 2020.
“The offseason kind of opened up wounds, but we split a series right now and we’re looking to win a baseball game. I’m not going to talk about it, I don’t need to revisit it. I know what happened. For us, I’m just looking forward to this season and this series.”
Alex Wood disappointed fans won’t be in attendance for Dodgers-Astros
It’s no secret that the environment at Minute Maid Park will have a much different feel due to the lack of fans in attendance. “Certainly overall disappointed we won’t get to play in front of fans, much less when we get to play Houston for the first time,” Alex Wood said.
“I still think it’s going to be an electric atmosphere, it’s still going to be two great teams going up against each other. I think both sides are going to have a chip on their shoulder. Especially after what happened in 2017.
“Those guys, as vocal as me and a lot of our guys have been with regards to that — it’s just a gut-wrenching situation. We haven’t had a lot of talks about it since Spring Training. I think guys are trying to look forward, not back.
“We have one thing on our mind — to win as many games as possible in this 60-game season to try to make it back to the World Series and hopefully finish the job. It’ll be a blast having our first road trip in Houston against those guys. It’ll be a great challenge for us and I think we’re excited for it.”
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