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 . . .”)

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.

Bud Selig to teach a class at Arizona State law school

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Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.

Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.

Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.

Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.