Carlos Correa stood up for his former teammate Carlos Beltrán in the wake of the Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
While speaking to reporters at spring training on Thursday, Correa refuted the recent report that Beltrán intimidated players during the team's 2017 scheme.
"The thing I have a problem with when I read that report was that we were scared of him or we felt intimidated. We didn't feel scared of him. We didn't feel intimidated. He was the nicest guy that we could ever have," Correa said. "Beltrán was the leader of the clubhouse, but we all had a say in everything we were doing in there.
"Whatever he said and whatever we were doing, we had the chance to stop it as a team. Everybody. Everybody had the chance to say something and we didn't."
Correa's comments come two days after The Athletic reported some members of the Astros "felt powerless" to stop Beltrán. A half-dozen anonymous former Astros players said teammates were afraid to approach the 20-year veteran and described him as "El Jefe, the Godfather, the king, the alpha male" in the clubhouse.
When Major League Baseball released its findings on the Astros' sign stealing, Beltrán and Alex Cora were the only two participants named in the report. Beltrán played as the team's designated hitter in 2017, and Cora worked as Houston's bench coach that season.
The report described how the Astros stole opponents' signs electronically with the help of an outfield camera. Video was fed to a monitor near the club's dugout, where players communicated to the batter that an off-speed pitch was coming by banging on a trashcan. No banging meant the pitch was a fastball.
Along with the report's release, commissioner Rob Manfred suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow through the World Series. However, owner Jim Crane subsequently fired Hinch and Luhnow, and Cora and Beltrán later lost their managerial roles with the Red Sox and Mets.
Correa said Beltrán's presence in the 2017 Astros' clubhouse helped the team instead of hurting it.
"He was inspiring. Whenever we were slumping, he was there for us," Correa said. "I don't see a person that's your mentor and is there for you when you're struggling as an intimidating person."