This all reads like the plot for a low-budget tech thriller movie. A bad, low-budget tech thriller.
According to Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Christian Red, Michael O’Keefe and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News, outfielder Melky Cabrera “created a fictitious website and a nonexistent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused a positive test under Major League Baseball’s drug program.”
The website, purchased by an associate of Cabrera’s from the Dominican Republic named Juan Nunez, cost a total of $10,000.
The product, advertised as a topical cream, was going to anchor Cabrera’s defense during his appeal.
But “baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly,” a source familiar with the case told the Daily News.
Cabrera’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES, have distanced themselves from Nunez and are claiming that the scheme was concocted without their knowledge. There’s no evidence that they’re lying, though Nunez has been hired directly by the agents in the past to obtain and deal with Dominican clients.
Federal investigators are now looking into the case, and it seems possible if not likely that Cabrera will be facing punishment beyond his 50-game ban from professional baseball. “If you engage in this type of activity,” concludes a well-informed source in the Daily News exclusive, “you do it at great risk to your livelihood.”
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.