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Robinson Cano, Scott Boras shoot down PED test rumor

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Yesterday afternoon rumors began popping up all over Twitter that Robinson Cano had tested positive for PEDs and had a suspension looming.  Cano and his agent Scott Boras forcefully shot that down yesterday:

“Not at all,” Cano told The News. “There’s no test or anything.”

Cano’s agent, Scott Boras, also told The News that the rumors were baseless. He said his office had traced the allegation to a rumor that originated in the Dominican Republic, a reporter in the U.S. and a rival agent who has been saying that a prominent Latin player has been mired in baseball’s appeals process.

I have no idea what rival agent he’s referring to, but the reporter in question was Dan Tordjman of WSOC TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He took to Twitter yesterday and reported that Cano had tested positive and that Major League Baseball was going to make an announcement to that effect later in the day.  The catch: he didn’t actually have any information about it besides that rumor Boras mentioned and, indeed, said in his tweets that the information was “unconfirmed.” Several reporters who do cover the Yankees immediately spoke with the team or the player and found it to be baseless.

Which makes one wonder why in the hell Tordjman was reporting it.  I realize this territory is sort of tricky and the line between news and gossip is often blurry. But it strikes me as one thing to note an explosive rumor is floating around (i.e. “there are rumors that a big star has a PED test and may be suspended soon”) and another thing altogether to hear the rumor, make a specific report on it — “Cano to be suspended later today”– and all the while claiming “hey, maybe it’s not true!”  I think that when the rumor in question is about something serious and something which can impact someone’s reputation like a drug test — as opposed to say some random trade rumor — far more caution and at least some sort of confirmation from a source in question is essential.

As it was, Tordjman was actually on Twitter asking random people with no connection to the Yankees or Cano if they had heard anything more specific about it.  I’d show you the tweets now, but between yesterday and today Tordjman locked his Twitter feed.  Probably a good move on his part.

The kicker about all of this is that, given the nature of the process — a player who tests positive has an appeals process during which a few people know about it but the rest of the public does not — the ground for rumors like this is terribly fertile. Indeed, we saw a hint of this with the Melky Cabrera suspension when word of it circulated prior to the announcement.  So it’s entirely possible that, in the future, word of a positive PED test will come out like this.

If it does, however, one would hope that the people who hear it are at least trying to see if it checks out beforehand with someone in a position to know and reports it with the skepticism and caution such matters deserve.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.