Astros request new judge in player’s sign-stealing lawsuit against team

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After getting caught for breaking MLB’s rules during the 2017 and ’18 seasons, the Houston Astros are now seemingly pushing the rules of the court of law. The Astros are reportedly questioning the impartiality of a California judge set to oversee a pending lawsuit by pitcher Mike Bolsinger.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the Astros’ lawyers informed Bolsinger’s counsel that they are requesting the Los Angeles County Superior Court to remove judge Malcolm Mackey, who was assigned to hear the lawsuit.

Bolsinger, who pitched in the majors from 2014-’17, is suing the Astros and team owner Jim Crane for the sign-stealing scandal. The 32-year-old alleged that the Astros’ cheating altered his career. Bolsinger’s last appearance came on Aug. 4, 2017, against the Astros. In that appearance he allowed four runs, three walks and four hits with just one out recorded.

The Astros’ lawyers didn’t cite specific evidence backing their belief that the judge would be prejudiced against them. However, California law allows each party to file a single, uncontested peremptory challenge to remove a judge from the case.

After learning that the Astros had filed to remove the judge, which will push the suit back even further, Bolsinger’s attorney Ben Meiselas ripped into the organization.

“I have no clue why the Astros feel that way about the particular judge, but the irony is not lost on me that the team who broke every rule and cheated to win a World Series is now claiming a randomly assigned judge would not be fair to them,” Ben Meiselas said, via The Los Angeles Times.

Bolsinger is seeking the court to determine damages and to receive $31 million in restitution, per The Los Angeles Times. He believes the number equals the postseason award bonuses players received and wants to donate it to area charities.

The measure taken by the Astros will further delay any potential case, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic causing delays for all cases in California.