Joe Tacopina

A-Rod’s lawyer was totally owned on the “Today Show” this morning.

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A-Rod’s combative new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, was on the “Today Show” this morning. He repeated some of his recent talking points about how he and A-Rod would love to talk about all of the stuff that has gone into the Biogenesis case and his defense but that he is prohibited from doing so by the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. Then Matt Lauer said this about a letter he just received from MLB:

“They sent us a letter saying that if you’re willing to sign this letter, that they are willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug and Prevention Program, that they’ll be allowed to talk about everything and you’ll be allowed to talk about everything.  They said that would include all prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, all documents, records, communications, text messages and instant messages related to Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch.”

Tacopina offered to read the letter. Then stumbled this out:

“Listen. We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more.”

That, my friend, is a pretty good ambush.

Of course, one has to ask whether anyone really needed to add ambush tactics into what has been going on here.  It’s already a giant circus thanks to Rodriguez’s attorneys’ tactics and the whole drama with the Yankees about A-Rod’s injuries unfold over the weekend and this kind of thing makes it into even more of one.  Major League Baseball has the upper hand given its suspension of A-Rod, its reportedly strong case against him and public sentiment being overwhelmingly on its side.  Why it feels it should get into the mud with a guy like Tacopina — who lives in the mud 24/7/365 —  is beyond me. I’d take the high road if I was MLB.

Of course I’m not MLB so this sort of thing is as entertaining as all get-out.

Beyond that, Tacopina went on the offensive, saying the Yankees haven’t been truthful about A-Rod’s injuries, both this summer and last fall during the playoffs. He also attacked Anthony Bosch. As I’d say with MLB, I’d ask why Tacopina thinks it’s best to wage his battle in public rather than in private. Winning in the court of public opinion — if this is what he’s trying to do — is pretty meaningless when there is a real court or arbitration that actually matters coming up. But again, we’re dealing with a guy who lives for this stuff for whatever reason.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.