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Jury selection begins in the human trafficking case against agents of Cuban ballplayers

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Jury selection is underway today in Miami federal courtroom in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, sports agents charged with illegally smuggling baseball players from Cuba to the United States. The two are accused of taking as much as $15 million from players, who were placed under duress, sent on dangerous and surreptitious boat voyages, placing them in danger and who were, allegedly, subjected to threats of violence before agreeing to hand over millions to the agents.

Three baseball players have been placed on the witness list: Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Adeiny Hechevarria of the Miami Marlins. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and various MLB executives are named as possible witnesses as well. Neither Cespedes, Abreu nor Hechevarria are not accused of wrongdoing.

Potential jurors will be questioned beginning Monday in the case of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, both of whom have pleaded not guilty. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

A 30-year-old rookie won his major league debut

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The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.

That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.

Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.

The Nationals could pursue Sonny Gray

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network says that the Nationals could pursue Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray if Stephen Strasburg‘s forearm issue lingers. Strasburg left Sunday’s start early due to forearm tightness, saying he was unable to get loose. Sometimes that’s a sign of a major injury. Sometimes it’s just a thing that happens and then goes away.

The Nationals will have to make a determination as to how big a deal this all is pretty soon, though, as a lot of other teams, including the Yankees, Brewers and Astros have all been linked to Gray. It seems inevitable at this point that the A’s will move their ace before Monday’s trade deadline.

Gray is set to start tonight. It may very well be his last in an A’s uniform.