LAKELAND, Fla. — Jose Altuve insisted that he tuned out the hecklers. But he couldn’t avoid a pitch that grazed him.
“He was hit in the foot. That ain’t nothing, you know what I mean?” Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said Monday after his team’s 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers at half-empty Joker Marchant Stadium. “It wasn’t intentional.”
Altuve was loudly booed when he was introduced for his spring training debut, cheered when he struck out and called a cheater by several fans. It was quite a difference from past years, when the diminutive All-Star second baseman was among the most popular players in the majors.
That was before Altuve and his Houston teammates were implicated in the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball.
“We just heard a lot of noise, and that’s it,” Altuve said.
Altuve and fellow starters Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel played for the first time in the exhibition season. After Houston opened the Grapefruit League in the stadium it shares with the World Series champion Washington Nationals, this was the first time the Astros were away from their complex, providing a taste of the reaction they might receive on the road this…