Yasiel Puig’s experience inspires Florida lawmakers to pressure MLB on its Cuban player policy

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Last week we read a couple of stories about Yasiel Puig’s harrowing journey to the United States from Cuba. Because of Major League Baseball’s rules about Cuban players and the draft, that journey required a stop in Mexico in order for Puig to be declared a free agent. And that stop in Mexico is what added some dangerous steps to Puig’s already dangerous journey from Cuba. Specifically, instead of merely evading the U.S. Coast Guard, Puig’s smugglers had to deal with drug gangs and Puig was basically held for ransom for a time.

Now two Florida lawmakers are trying to do something about that. Currently there is a bill aimed at providing funds for renovation and upkeep of pro sports facilities in the state. The representatives are filing an amendment to it to pressure Major League Baseball. From the Miami Herald:

Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Matt Gaetz are filing an amendment to a stadium funding bill that would require the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays demand Major League Baseball change its Cuban player policy if they want state money for stadium construction or renovations . . . The amendment would also require the Florida teams demand Major League Baseball report any information they have on Floridians involved in human trafficking or smuggling of Cuban players to the state attorney general.

It would be largely symbolic, of course, because I’m guessing Major League Baseball has zero intention of making it any easier for players to become free agents no matter their circumstances. Indeed, if MLB could wave a wand right now and change things they’d make all foreign-born players subject to the draft instead. That would eliminate the bad incentives here too, but it has its own set of problems and wouldn’t necessarily be in baseball’s best interests over the long term.

But symbolic is better than noting. More attention needs to be paid to this. As it stands, escaping Cuba is already a dangerous proposition, even if the only goal is to get straight to the United States. Leaving incentives in place that lead Cuban baseball players to make their journey even more dangerous is not the wisest thing.

Addison Russell had an allergic reaction to something he ate from the postgame spread

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Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Cubs shortstop Addison Russell stayed overnight in Denver after having an allergic reaction to something he ate from the postgame spread in the clubhouse at Coors Field after Sunday afternoon’s game. Russell spent a couple of hours at a hospital in Denver for observation on Sunday night.

Russell has a shellfish allergy and believes something he ate might have been mistakenly labeled as not having shrimp in it.

The Cubs took two of three games from the Rockies. After Monday’s day off, the Cubs open a brief two-game series in Cleveland for a rematch of the 2016 World Series. Russell flew with the team to Cleveland and believes he will be in good enough shape to play on Tuesday.

Russell, 24, has had a slow start to the season. He’s hitting .219/.324/.281 across 74 plate appearances.