Report: Melky Cabrera will not play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic

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Melky Cabrera was included on the provisional roster for the Dominican Republic when it was announced last month, but he has apparently had a change of heart about participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. According to Dionisio Soldevila, a Spanish language reporter for the Associated Press and ESPN Deportes, Cabrera has withdrawn his name from the tournament.

It’s certainly interesting timing, as earlier this week the Miami New Times identified Cabrera as one of the players who allegedly purchased performance-enhancing drugs from the Biogensis clinic in Miami, but it’s not known whether the situation had an impact on his decision. Soldevila’s report merely says that Cabrera wants to spend spring training with the Blue Jays.

Cabrera served a 50-game suspension last season after testing positive for synthetic testosterone. He signed a two-year, $16 million contract with Toronto over the winter and is expected to serve as the club’s starting left fielder this season.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.