Dodgers News: Joe Kelly Excited For ‘Fun Baseball Atmosphere’ In Astros Series

Having swept back-to-back series and in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Dodgers reach the final leg of their road trip with a matchup against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The visit to Houston is the Dodgers’ second since the Astros were discovered to have utilized an elaborate sign-stealing scheme to win the 2017 World Series. Tempers flared last season when Joe Kelly lost control of multiple pitches and exchanged words with Carlos Correa.

Both benches cleared and Kelly was suspended eight games, which was reduced to five after an appeal. While the teams traded barbs last year, it was in an empty stadium because of restrictions in place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Astros announced last week Minute Maid Park was opening to full capacity for the remainder of the season, beginning with their two-game series against the Dodgers.

There doesn’t figure to be any love lost between Kelly, the Astros or their fans, but the right-hander said during an interview on SportsNet LA that he is looking forward to the setting:

“It’s going to be great. It’s going to be a fun baseball atmosphere. That’s something that we’ve missed, is the fans. Even if you’re on the road playing in an environment like that, as an athlete, a performer — we’re playing a game but I think we are performers as if we’re actors or had a podcast — it’s entertainment, and people want to go see stuff like that.

“As an entertainment kind of guy, it’s something I like to thrive in. It’s happened before. I’ve had a big situation out in Boston, you go back to New York and you’ve got fans threatening to cut your head off and throwing stuff at you when you’re warming up. I had a couple beers thrown at me first game back in New York after that brawl, but it’s all fun and games.

“Unless it hits me. Then I’m going to get it and probably throw it back at the fan. Don’t hit me, and I won’t hit you.”

The Dodgers and Astros played three more games after their dust-up without issue. Though, a group of fans with signs and trash cans did await Houston’s traveling party outside of Dodger Stadium.

“I loved it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at the time. “I think they have every right to do whatever they feel to express their feelings. I thought it was great. It just shows the passion the Dodger fans have.”

Kelly thankful for suspension after Astros incident

Although Kelly was firm in voicing his anger with the Astros for their handling of fallout from the sign-stealing scandal and in being suspended by MLB, he more recently expressed relief because that time led to learning the cause of right shoulder trouble.

Kelly addressed the matter with offseason surgery to remove cysts from his throwing shoulder and has been in an improved physical state since then.

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