Alex Sanabia says he didn’t know the spitter was against the rules

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Marlins right-hander Alex Sanabia was seen spitting on the baseball during his start Monday night against the Phillies, a clear violation of MLB rules. However, it went unnoticed by umpires and it appears that he will not receive any sort of punishment.

As for Sanabia’s defense, well, he’s pleading ignorance on the whole thing. The Associated Press has the story:

Sanabia said Friday he spit on a baseball earlier in the week to get a better grip, not to get more movement on his pitches. He also repeated he didn’t know it was illegal.

“I didn’t know. I was in my zone and just grooving. It’s something you live and learn from. I didn’t mean anything bad by it or I didn’t mean to do anything more,” Sanabia said. “It’s something that showed up that way and people all of a sudden just create their own perception of.”

While one could argue that Sanabia didn’t gain a significant advantage by spitting on the baseball as opposed to using something like pine tar that could actually have a major impact on movement, that’s one weak excuse. For what it’s worth, Sanabia denied spitting on the baseball in previous outings, saying that he usually just licks his fingers to get a better grip. However, he spit directly on the baseball in this instance because the ball was “super slick.”

Sanabia is slated to make his next start tomorrow against the White Sox. He figures to be on his best behavior.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.