Ángel Hernández asks appeals court to reinstate suit vs MLB

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NEW YORK ⁠— Lawyers for Angel Hernandez claim Major League Baseball manipulated the umpire’s evaluations, renewing the allegation in an attempt to reinstate the racial discrimination lawsuit he lost last year.

Hernandez’s lawyers made the claim in a filing Tuesday to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, trying to overturn the summary judgment U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted to MLB in March 2021.

The Cuba-born Hernandez was hired as a big league umpire in 1993. He sued in 2017, alleging he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief.

Hernandez served as an interim crew chief from 2011-16, at the start of the pandemic-delayed 2020 season and for part of the 2021 season but has not been made a permanent crew chief.

Citing the 2011-16 seasons, Hernandez’s attorneys said in the brief to the appellate court that “MLB manipulated Mr. Hernandez’s year-end evaluations in order to make his job performance appear worse than it actually was. Mr. Hernandez’s year-end evaluations for the 2011-2016 seasons do not even come close to accurately summarizing Mr. Hernandez’s actual performance in those seasons.”

In an August 2020 brief responding to a similar allegation, MLB called the claim “devoid of merit.”

Hernandez’s lawyers wrote “the District Court failed to follow existent precedent applicable to discrimination cases in which the pool of minority individuals eligible for promotion is too small to yield a statistically significant conclusion as to disparate impact.”

Kerwin Danley became the first Black crew chief in 2020 and Alfonso Marquez became the first Hispanic crew chief born outside the United States. Richie Garcia, who was born in Florida, was the first Hispanic crew chief from 1985-89.

Oetken wrote, “Hernandez attempts to rely on the inexorable zero,’ or the notion that courts should set aside statistical analyses in circumstances where few minorities or women have been employed. While the inexorable zero may be compelling in the case of a larger employer who has hired or promoted no minority candidates, it is less compelling in the present context, where both the pool of umpires and the number of available promotions are small.”

Oetken in January denied Hernandez’s motion to alter, amend or vacate his decision, leaving an appeal to the circuit court as the next step,

Hernandez has been at times controversial on the field. He had three calls at first base overturned in video reviews during Game 3 of the 2018 AL Division Series between the New York Yankees and Boston.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.