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An Alabama baseball player part of MLB’s new gambling crackdown

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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 in the game's biggest gambling scandal in decades. The list includes a minor league player who was with the Chicago White Sox based in Birmingham at the time of his alleged violations.

MLB said Tucupita Marcano placed close to four hundred bets baseball bets totaling more than $150,000 in October 2022 and from last July through November with a legal sportsbook. He 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 a 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.

Jose Rodríguez has been at Double-A Reading this season. He placed over thirty bets on baseball back in 2021 and in 2022. That includes MLB and 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.

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.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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