We’ve noted that Ryan Braun’s public comments about the man who handled his urine sample back when he tested positive for testosterone in 2011 were low rent and uncalled-for, what with the implication, however oblique, that it was possible that the sample was tampered with. Buster Olney reported last night that his private comments — behind the scenes to other players whom he was attempting to rally for support — were worse.
Specifically, he was trying to create the impression among them that the sample collector was out to get him due to either anti-semitism or the fact that he was a Cubs fan:
According to sources, Braun called veteran players around baseball privately at that time to lobby for their support. In the calls — confirmed by three sources — Braun told other players that in the preparation for his appeal, some information had become known about the collector of his urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr., including that he was a Cubs fan — with the implication he might work against Braun, who played for a division rival of the Cubs.
Braun, who is Jewish, also told the players that he had been told the collector was an anti-Semite.
This is leaps and bounds beyond what he ever said in his public comments and is, above all else, really pathetic. Especially considering his ultimate defense to the sample was a technical one, related to collection methods, and not one where the motives or character of anyone involved was actually litigated.
Braun is said to be coming around to the idea of “coming clean” soon after the heat dies down. If he does, this is something he had better come clean on and for which he had best find a way to make amends.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
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.