From Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, we learn that Pirates president Frank Coonelly has been charged with four counts related to drunken driving. Coonelly was arrested on Dec. 22 and charged him with drunken driving, driving the wrong way, careless driving and driving with a blood-alcohol content of at least .16.
That is some big league drunk driving. Coonelly has released a statement:
“My actions that evening were irresponsible and wrong. I take full and sole responsibility for them. There is no excuse for ever driving under the influence of alcohol. My wife and I have preached to our children about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol, not only for themselves but for the innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the road. I am embarrassed that I failed to follow this advice myself on this occasion and extremely grateful no one was injured or adversely affected by this serious lapse of judgment.”
“I have apologized to my wife and children, to Bob Nutting and to all of those at the Pirates organization who work so tirelessly for the club. I would also like to apologize to all of the fans and friends of the Pittsburgh Pirates. My conduct that night was uncharacteristic to my personally held values and not who I am. I will learn from this serious lapse of judgment.”
Coonelly is easily the highest-ranking baseball figure to be charged with drunk driving. Not only is he the Pirates’ team president, but he spent a decade as general counsel for Major League Baseball.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.