Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers: Ryan Braun lied to me

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was one of the most vocal defenders of Ryan Braun during his drug test/appeal drama last year. Rodgers blasted anyone who doubted Braun at the time, saying  “MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man” and that they “Picked the wrong guy to mess with.” There was also some “Truth will set u free #exonerated” stuff and a lot of other tweets which suggested, in no uncertain terms, that Rodgers thought it was an impossibility that Braun took any PEDs.

After this week’s events it was pretty obvious that some microphones were going to be put in Rodgers’ face. And it was also pretty obvious that Rodgers would either have to offer up a “no comment” or say what seems pretty clear: Braun lied to his face.  He took the latter tack:

“I was shocked, I really was, just like many of you were … I was backing up a friend. He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true. So, it is disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, really baseball fans. It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that and I’m disappointed in the way it all went down.”

Rodgers is business partners with Braun too, and they’re supposed to open a restaurant soon. He said the fate of that project is  “yet to be determined.”  He clearly seemed hurt by Braun based on his comments.

As I said the other day, the people Braun knew and lied to personally are among those who have a right to be really angry here and are the folks who are owed an apology.  Putting Rodgers in that position and relying on his good name and good will when he knew he had lied to the guy is pretty awful.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.