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Man who made fake website for Melky Cabrera sues agency for which he consulted

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In 2012, outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for PED use. His suspension was far more notable than most, however, in that it was discovered that a fictitious website for a nonexistent product was created, designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused his positive test.

The ruse was quickly discovered and Cabrera served his suspension. In the investigation which followed, a man named Juan Carlos Nunez, who had consulted for Cabrera’s agents, the ACES agency, helping them sign players out of the Dominican Republic, admitted that he created the website. He took full responsibility for it at the time and was banned from baseball. He was later arrested for helping recruit ballplayers for the disgraced Biogenesis lab and served three months in prison as a result of his role in the PED ring.

In the wake of the Cabrera/Nunez/Biogenesis scandal, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, which has jurisdiction over agencies, investigated the ACES Agency, run by brothers Seth and Sam Levinson, and found no wrongdoing on its part. Now, six years after Nunez’s fall from grace, he has sued the agency and the Levinson brothers, reports Jon Heyman. A copy of the complaint can be found at the bottom of this article.

Nunez says in the suit that the ACES agency encouraged him to make under-the-table payments to players and their families to attract clients as well as help clients get steroids. He claims that the fake Cabrera website was created at the agency’s direction and that he agreed to take responsibility for it in exchange for cash payments. He alludes to an affidavit by convicted PEDs dealer Kirk Radomski, which he says support his claims, though the affidavit is not attached to the complaint and is, in fact, several years old. He claims that ACES has violated its agreement in this regard and otherwise breached its contract with him.

Sam and Seth Levinson have released the following statement in response to the suit:

While we have not yet seen the complaint, Juan Nunez is a convicted felon who spent time in federal prison. He betrayed his family, the players who trusted him and the very people who gave him an opportunity at a great life and career. He was terminated almost six (6) years ago, in August of 2012, after his betrayals came to light. ACES has been thoroughly investigated, and at every turn, has fully cooperated. The MLBPA exonerated us, all of the players cleared us, and it was conclusively proven that we did absolutely nothing wrong. This is nothing more than a shakedown by a man broken by his own criminal actions. We will take the fight to Mr. Nunez for any meritless and defamatory claims, and we will seek all available remedies and damages that his criminal behavior has caused.

Nunez certainly seems like he’ll have a tough road ahead of him. In addition to his previous statements taking full responsibility for the Cabrera affair and for his connections to Biogenesis, he purports to rely on another convicted felon, Radomski, to support his claims. Notably, Radomski’s statements in the form of the cited affidavit were already in possession of Major League Baseball and the MLBPA at the time ACES was under scrutiny, and yet the agency was still absolved of wrongdoing in all of it.

The wheels of justice will begin to turn now, and the case will commence, but based on what we know at this point, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Nunez is looking to make a buck here now that he’s unable to work in baseball.

Phillies pause Jerad Eickhoff’s rehab

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Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season as he suffered a lat injury in mid-March and has been on the disabled list since. He started a rehab stint in the minors last week, making a start for Double-A Reading on May 15 and another start for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic reports that Eickhoff went a twinge in the fingertips of his right index and middle fingers late in Sunday’s outing after throwing a curve and on the subsequent pitch. The Phillies have paused Eickhoff’s rehab as a result and will evaluate him further.

Eickhoff went on the disabled list in late August last year due to nerve irritation in his right hand, so this latest setback could be related to that.

Eickhoff showed promise early in his career, posting a combined 3.44 ERA in 41 starts between 2015-16. He struggled to a 4.71 ERA last year before ending his season early with the nerve issue. Eickhoff was one of the many prospects the Phillies got from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade.