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A-Rod’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, files an appeal challenging Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis lawsuit

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Alex Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri Sucart has filed a writ with a Florida appellate court challenging the validity of Major League Baseball’s lawsuit against Biogenesis: the lawsuit which gave Major League Baseball the handle with which to turn Anthony Bosch and others as it pursued Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other ballplayers who were alleged to have done business with the Biogenesis clinic.

Sucart is not a defendant in that lawsuit, but Major League Baseball did seek to take his deposition and sought to obtain documents and his medical records.  Sucart challenged MLB’s right to do so, seeking an order from the trial court preventing the deposition from taking place. That effort was denied and now he has filed today’s writ with the Third District Court of Appeal.

The basis for the appeal, which NBC Sports.com has obtained, includes some arguments which would relate only to Sucart, such as his rights under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and his standing as a non-party to challenge the trial court’s orders. But Sucart also challenges the very foundation of the lawsuit, arguing that the trial court has no jurisdiction to hear Major League Baseball’s case at all. The reason: the dispute requires the interpretation of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to determine whether it was breached and state courts are forbidden from interpreting a collective bargaining agreement by operation of the Labor Management Relations Act.

Major League Baseball will have a chance to respond to Sucart’s arguments.  It will likely be weeks, and possibly months, before the court rules.

Sucart’s attorney, Jeffrey Sonn of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida law firm of Sonn & Erez PLC, told NBC Sports.com that if Sucart’s challenge is successful, it not only would mean an end to the Biogenesis case, but it could make waves for player-owner relations in baseball as a whole:

“In my opinion, if the 3rd district court of appeals agrees with our premise … I think the players would have a tremendous lawsuit against baseball for violation of their due process rights and other claims for violating the collective bargaining agreement. It would be tantamount to baseball knowingly violating the players’ rights. The bottom line is if you make a deal with the players, and you don’t like the deal, go renegotiate it. Don’t run to court. Don’t trample on people’s private rights.”

Sonn went beyond the implications of this writ, however, and offered an indictment of the CBA and Joint Drug Agreement overall, saying, “The method of the CBA, which basically holds you guilty until it proves you innocent, is antithetical to our justice system in that it holds you guilty until it proves you innocent. It is un-American.”

The overarching argument may be a moot one given that the MLBPA and all of the accused players with the exception of Alex Rodriguez have gotten on board with baseball’s Biogenesis investigation, accepting their punishment. With respect to Rodriguez, the evidence Major League Baseball will use against him at his upcoming arbitration has already been obtained.

But this appeal could test Major League Baseball’s ability to aggressively pursue similar cases under the theory it employed when it filed the Biogenesis suit. And, if successful, it could render any discipline it ultimately obtains against Alex Rodriguez the product of evidence that, were the law followed and the suit not filed, would likely have never fallen into baseball’s hands in the first place.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.