The Big LeadThe Big Lead

Justin Verlander Says He Had Free Press Reporter Barred Because of Previous 'Unethical Behavior'

A Detroit Free Press reporter was barred from entering the Houston Astros’ locker room to join Justin Verlander’s postgame media scrum, Chris Thomas reports. Gene Dias, the team’s vice president of communications, told the Free Press that this was done at the pitcher’s request. The incident came after the Tigers knocked off Verlander and the Astros, 2-1, in a game the home team was a historic -560 favorite to win.

The article has a very thorough blow-by-blow of the events as well as a detailed cross-reference section on all the protocols and norms potentially violated. A security guard who definitely didn’t think he’d be getting his name in the paper got his name in the paper. The reporter wasn’t originally identified but this morning the piece was updated to reflect it is Anthony Fenech.

It’s unclear exactly what the beef is here, though those who have covered the team for a long time likely have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on and should definitely shed more light on it via talk radio today. Verlander spent 13 years in Detroit and has always presented himself to the public as a rather affable guy, the type you’d think had broadcasting aspirations. People, of course, contain multitudes.

UPDATE: Verlander explained why he declined to speak with Fenech, citing “unethical behavior” in the past.

Tuesday night’s events didn’t come out of nowhere.

Wednesday’s incident came hours after Dias told the Free Press that the Astros preferred the reporter not attend Verlander’s postgame media session. It also came a day after Verlander refused to speak to credentialed media in a group setting with the Free Press reporter present.

When the reporter finally did get access to the Astros clubhouse, Verlander wasn’t interested in engaging, telling the scribe,  “I’m not answering your questions,” before a question was asked.

Hopefully this all blows over. Verlander has to focus on winning another World Series. The Tigers beat writer needs to focus on getting through what has been a hellacious season and the sweet relief of Game 162’s final out.