The Houston Astros will be walking around with targets on their backs in 2020, and manager Dusty Baker is already trying to keep his players safe.
With many opponents publicly blasting the Astros for their illegal sign-stealing methods in previous seasons, Baker - who was hired last month - appealed to Major League Baseball on Saturday to help prevent an on-field incident.
"I'm depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly premeditated retaliation that I'm hearing about," Baker said, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. "In most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I'm just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.
"It's not good for the game," he continued. "It's not good for kids to see it. I think both: stop the comments and also stop something before it happens."
Baker added that the Astros won't "start anything" with opponents on the field this season.
The 70-year-old wasn't involved in the Astros' illicit sign-stealing. Baker was hired to replace AJ Hinch, who lost his job due to his role in the scheme.
Barring a meeting in the World Series, the Dodgers and Astros won't face each other in 2020. But that hasn't stopped Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling - a member of the 2017 L.A. team that lost the championship to Houston - from admitting that he'd take a shot at them on the field.
"I would lean toward yes," Stripling said Friday when asked if he'd consider intentionally throwing at Astros hitters, according to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez. "In the right time and in the right place. Maybe I give up two runs the inning before and I got some anger going. Who knows? But yeah, it would certainly be on my mind."
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, who has publicly clashed with the Astros on multiple occasions during the past few seasons, seemingly alluded to having similar thoughts.
"I'm not going to let them forget that fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they've stolen from a lot of other people, and the game itself was completely unfair," Bauer told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.