J.J. Putz cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Five weeks after being placed on the disabled list with a strained elbow Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A.

According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com the plan is for Putz to pitch Thursday and Saturday, take Sunday off, and then try to work back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. If that all goes well, he’d likely come off the disabled list in the middle of next week.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson avoided saying that Putz would be handed the closer job once healthy, leaving the door open due to Heath Bell converting 11 of 12 save chances in his absence.

Report: Major League Baseball bans transactions with Mexican League teams

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.

Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.

Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.

There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.