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Wild rumor time: Robinson Cano might have met with the Tigers yesterday

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The Tigers were able to shed the monster contract of Prince Fielder earlier this week in the deal that netted them Ian Kinsler from the Rangers. Is it possible that the next step will be to pursue free agent second baseman Robinson Cano?

That scenario seems extremely unlikely for a variety of reasons, but there have been some rumblings that Cano was in Detroit yesterday. Tony Paul of the Detroit News did some pretty thorough checking on the matter and found nothing conclusive. But he also couldn’t rule it out.

There was, indeed, a charter plane that took off from Teterboro, N.J., about a half-hour outside New York City, at 6:59 a.m. Friday and landed at Willow Run 90 minutes later. The plane then sat at Willow Run until 2:04 p.m., when it headed back to Teterboro. The plane in question is a Kelso Air-owned business jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600, which seats between 14 and 18 passengers. This plane could cost as much as $4,100 per hour to charter, or more than $32,000 for this particular trip — impressive, to be sure, but not much of a dent for someone who made, say, $15 million in salary in 2013.

This jet also has made no other recent trips to Michigan. Its recent getaways include such locales as Augusta, Ga. (home of swanky Augusta National Golf Club); Bermuda; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego; and Chicago.

There was no word from either airport on whether Cano had been on board. An employee in the administration office at Teterboro said even if he had that information, he couldn’t disclose it. There was no answer at Willow Run on Friday evening.

Now, how do we know Cano is even in the States right now, and not home in the Dominican Republic? Truth be told, we don’t. However, there’s a good chance he has remained in New York. He is, after all, searching for a new contract. And just the other day, he did attend an A-list party in New York City.

Cano’s hip-hop agent, meanwhile, is Jay Z, who was in Oklahoma City on Thursday night, sitting courtside for an NBA game. (He also represents Thunder star Kevin Durant.) There was no direct flight listed from Oklahoma City to Willow Run. But Jay Z also has his own private plane, and apparently has the ability to file a request with the FAA to be excluded from the publicly accessible flight-tracker websites.

I don’t think we have seen much plane tracking in the baseball world since Cliff Lee three years ago. The Hot Stove will make you do some crazy things sometimes.

As for the Tigers, they are staying pretty quiet on the matter. A team spokesman gave a “no comment” to Paul while Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Chris Iott of MLive.com via email that “we plan on having Ian Kinsler as our second baseman this year.”

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.