New Yankee Stadium already showing cracks

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It seems the Yankees’ new $1.5 billion city-subsidized stadium is beginning to show cracks,
just six months after its debut. The team has recently fallen under
scrutiny for cracks in the concrete pedestrian ramps — some as much as
an inch wide and several feet long — prompting the team to hire an
engineering company to determine whether the problems were caused by
the installation, the design, the concrete or other factors.

On the bright side, Alice McGillion, a team spokeswoman, called the cracks
“cosmetic,” saying that they pose no safety issues because they did
not affect the structural integrity of the ramps.

“There is no evidence that there is any issue or problem with concrete or any material in the building,” she said.

Interstate Industrial Corporation, the company that poured the
concrete, was banned from doing city work in 2004 because city
investigators
concluded it had ties to organized crime, an accusation its owners have
denied.

Interstate may sound familiar since they are currently front-and-center
in the trial of former Giuliani Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. According to the Village Voice, Kerik is accused of accepting $165,000 in renovations on his Riverdale apartment from the
DiTomasso brothers — the principals of Interstate — in return for
recommending them for city contracts they were barred from.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the company that evaluated the strength
of the concrete poured for the walkways, Testwell Laboratories, its
owners and several officers were indicted last year on state
racketeering charges. It’s unclear whether the team will have to tear
out any of the concrete in the ramps in question, however, according to
the New York Times, the problem could cost several million dollars to
fix.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.