The wheels grind slowly, but they grind:
The Florida Department of Health, which sent a cease-and-desist order to Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch last month, says it has referred the case to the Miami State Attorney’s office and the Florida Attorney General’s office.
Ed Griffith, a spokesman for Miami State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, said local prosecutors can’t initiate a criminal investigation into Bosch — who allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and two dozen other Major League Baseball players — until health officials provide prosecutors with evidence of criminal activity.
All of this is relevant for baseball only insofar as heat can be applied to Bosch in a manner which gives him an incentive to call out baseball players. Whether that is something that is at all valuable to the health officials who have thus far investigated him or prosecutors who will now consider the matter is an open question.
It was something interesting to federal prosecutors back in the Mitchell Report days and their desire to go after ballplayers has done absolutely nothing to benefit the careers of any federal prosecutors. Quite the contrary, actually. So it’s quite possible that all the Florida attorneys will care about is shutting down a crooked clinic and getting its owner behind bars.
Best way to do that: give ballplayers immunity and sealed testimony to sink him, actually. Which does not exactly help the aims of MLB in its desire to find dirt on these guys.
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.