MLB bans Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on baseball, four others get one-year suspensions | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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MLB bans Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on baseball, four others get one-year suspensions

FILE - Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Andrew Saalfrank throws against the Texas Rangers during the ninth inning in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Phoenix. Major League Baseball, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, banned Saalfrank for one year after finding the player placed unrelated bets with a legal sportsbook. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, FIle)
Original Publication Date June 04, 2024 - 7:21 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was banned from baseball for life for betting on the sport and four others were suspended for one year by Major League Baseball on Tuesday in the game’s biggest gambling scandal in decades.

MLB said Marcano placed 387 baseball bets totaling more than $150,000 in October 2022 and from last July through November with a legal sportsbook. The 24-year-old Venezuelan with 149 games of major league experience became the first active player in a century banned for life because of gambling.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly was suspended for one year for betting on baseball while in the minor leagues, and three minor leaguers also were banned for one year for betting on big league games: pitchers Jay Groome of San Diego and Andrew Saalfrank of Arizona, and infielder José Rodríguez of Philadelphia. Each of those four players wagered under $1,000. Saalfrank and Rodríguez played previously in the majors.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people.”

Marcano became the second North American athlete banned for gambling in recent months. The NBA gave Toronto’s Jontay Porter a lifetime ban in April after concluding he disclosed confidential information to bettors and wagered on games, including on the Raptors to lose.

Marcano is the first active major leaguer banned for life under the sport's gambling provision since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O'Connell in 1924. Pete Rose, baseball's career hits leader, agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation concluded he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team.

Marcano spent parts of the past three major league seasons with Pittsburgh and San Diego, which signed him as a teenager in 2016. He made his major league debut with the Padres in 2021 before they traded him to the Pirates later that year.

Marcano has not played since tearing his right ACL last July 24. The Padres claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh last November, but he hasn't suited up for San Diego while recovering from his knee injury.

New San Diego manager Mike Shildt and most of the current Padres never shared a dugout with Marcano, only meeting him at spring training.

“I got to know him as a person, and I think the person is a really good one,” Shildt said Tuesday before the Padres faced the Los Angeles Angels.

“Clearly it’s something that rightfully baseball takes very seriously, as they should,” Shildt added. “There’s always consequences to your actions. But in my understanding and my personal relationship with him, which is very limited, he’s a fine young man. We make mistakes in life, and I don’t think he’s running from it. He’s clearly going to be punished for it. I just hope it doesn’t interrupt his life, because again, in talking to him, he’s a good guy, and we all make mistakes. ... He doesn’t need to be labeled or anything for one mistake.”

Major League Rule 21, posted in every clubhouse, states betting on any baseball game in which a player, umpire, league official or team employee has no duty to perform results in a one-year suspension. Betting on a game in which the person has a duty to perform results in a lifetime ban.

MLB said it was tipped off in March about the betting activity by a legal sports betting operator. New monitoring measures put in place with MLB and the sportsbook triggered these wagers being flagged for attention, a person familiar with investigation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday because that detail was not announced.

None of the players punished played in any games on which they wagered, and all players denied to MLB they had inside information relevant to their bets or the games they gambled on — testimonies that MLB said aligned with data received from the sportsbook.

In its announcement, MLB detailed the bets alleged for each player.

Marcano’s 387 baseball bets included international games and 231 MLB-related wagers for $87,319 from Oct. 16-23, 2022, and from last July 12 through Nov. 1. Twenty-five of those bets included wagers on Pirates games while he was on the team’s major league roster. Though injured, he was receiving medical treatment at PNC Park last year.

Marcano bet almost exclusively on the outcomes of games and lost all of his parlay bets involving the Pirates, winning just 4.3% of all of his MLB-related bets.

Marcano is a career .217 hitter with five homers, 34 RBIs and seven stolen bases, playing in both the infield and outfield.

“While the thorough investigation revealed no evidence of any games being compromised, influenced or manipulated in any way in this case, protecting the integrity of our game is paramount,” the Pirates said in a statement.

The other four players did not bet on games involving their assigned teams.

Kelly placed 10 bets on nine major league games from Oct. 5-17, 2021, while a minor league player assigned to Houston's Triple-A Sugar Land farm team. The bets included wagers on outcomes, over/under on runs and an individual pitcher’s strikeout total. Three of the nine games involved the major league Astros. His wagers totaled $99.22 and resulted in $28.30 of winnings.

Kelly, 31, was 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 28 games for the A's this season, last pitching on Saturday at Atlanta. The former first-round draft pick appeared in 46 games over the past three seasons.

Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said he “wished Michael the best” in a brief conversation.

“There’s an opportunity, with the year that he had, for Michael to have that chance, pitch in the big leagues (again),” Kotsay added. “We’ll have to see what happens when that decision needs to be made, when he has the opportunity to come off of a suspension. I do believe in people being given a second chance.”

Saalfrank, 26, pitched in 21 games for Arizona last year between the regular season and postseason, including three World Series games, and two this year before he was optioned to Triple-A Reno on May 1.

He placed 29 baseball bets from Sept. 9 through Oct. 29 in 2021 and on March 9, 2022, including 28 on MLB and one parlay on college baseball. He placed four bets on the big league Diamondbacks while on the injured list of their Low A farm team. His baseball bets totaled $445.87 on baseball, including $444.07 on MLB, and lost $272.64 on MLB bets and $1.80 on the college wager. He won just five of 28 MLB bets, which included outcomes, runs and pitcher strikeouts.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Saalfrank “made a bad decision,” and the suspension is “all anyone is talking about” in the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse.

“What I do know about is the human being,” Lovullo added. “I know Andrew is remorseful. He knows he made a mistake. I haven’t talked to him, but people have explained to me what he said and he feels terrible, but he’s going to pay the correct consequences.”

Rodríguez, 23, has been at Double-A Reading this season. He placed 31 bets on baseball on Sept. 30, 2021, and from June 5 through July 30 in 2022, including 28 on MLB and three on college baseball. The total included seven involving the Chicago White Sox at the time he was assigned to their Double-A team in Birmingham, Alabama. Two of the White Sox bets involved outcomes and the others were on runs scored. He bet $749.09 on baseball, of which $724.09 was on MLB-related bets that included parlays.

Philadelphia acquired Rodríguez in April, and manager Rob Thomson said he doesn't know the 23-year-old Dominican.

“I really can’t comment on it, other than I know that everyone is required in the major leagues and minor leagues is required to understand Rule 21, and that’s through Major League Baseball, the rules on gambling,” Thomson said.

Groome, a 25-year-old who had been on a minor league injured list since mid-April, placed 32 MLB-related bets from July 22, 2020, through July 24, 2021, including 24 on the Boston Red Sox major league team while he was assigned to Boston’s High-A team in Greenville, South Carolina. The sport detailed he wagered $453.74 on 30 MLB games and had a net loss of $433.54, receiving payouts on only two wagers. His betting included parlays.


AP Sports Writers Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, John Marshall in Phoenix and Greg Beacham in Anaheim, California, and AP freelance reporter Michael Wagaman in Oakland contributed to this report.



News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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