One thing many of the Biogenesis players have in common is their representation: Nelson Cruz, Jordany Valdespin, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Melky Cabrera, are all represented by ACES, the agency headed by Seth and Sam Levinson. You probably first heard of ACES’ connection to PEDs last year when it was named in stories arising out of Cabrera’s efforts to set up a fake website to explain away his positive drug test.
A more significant name which spun out of that website story, however, is one Juan Carlos Nunez, a “paid consultant” of ACES who is said to have been the one who set up Melky’s website. As the New York Daily News reported last winter, MLB banned Nunez from associating with any of the 30 MLB clubs, and from all team facilities. The Players Association censured the Levinsons for not adequately supervising Nunez, but the agency maintained certification.
Despite multiple clients appearing in the Biogenesis records, a source tells NBCSports.com that Nunez was freelancing, essentially, and that “there is absolutely no evidence” that ACES knew of Juan Nunez’s activities. This would jibe with the Daily News’ report that Nunez was a frequent visitor to Bosch’s clinic.
The source says that MLB and the union are looking at ACES once again now that the investigation of Biogenesis players is nearing an end, but there is no indication that the agency will face any discipline or further censure.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.