MLBPA warning: players with criminal records could be detained entering Canada

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canadian flag.jpgBaseball and immigration: it’s not just about Arizona anymore!

The MLB Players Association sent a memo — marked urgent — to all player agents yesterday, warning those who represent non-Canadian players who have a past criminal record, that, “Under
Canadian immigration laws, individuals who are not Canadian citizens
may be detained at the border and, in certain cases may not be permitted
to enter Canada at all, if they have any sort of past criminal record.”

This has always been Canadian law, but according to the memo “Canadian authorities have stepped up enforcement of these laws, resulting in several non-Canadian players traveling to Toronto with
their teams being detained at the border because of a past criminal record.” The memo doesn’t say who was detained.

It goes on:

Even an arrest, conviction or suspended sentence many years ago for a minor crime, or a juvenile offense, can result in a border detention and investigation to determine whether a player can be permitted to enter Canada, if the appropriate entry permit has not been obtained in
advance.

Apparently there is a disclosure form which people with criminal records coming into Canada can fill out which allows entry. Which leads to what I think is the most interesting line in the memo:

Disclosure of past criminal records can have potential employment ramifications for players, so you should advise players with such issues
to contact the Players Association for advice before disclosing any past criminal record to anyone else, including their traveling secretary or
any other club official.

I’m struggling to think of a situation in which Canadian border patrol employees would be aware of a player with a record while the team is not.  Do teams do background checks?  Are there disgruntled childhood friends of players ratting out old vandalism charges to Canadian immigration officials? If a guy has been with, say, the Red Sox for six or seven years and the team doesn’t know about something in his past, how could anyone else?

Oh well, such sticky situations is why these guys have a union. And either way, I suppose it will be a lot of fun to be a traveling secretary for the next few weeks. (“Wait, you did what?  Convicted or just charged?  Man, this is gonna be a lot of paperwork . . .”)

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.