San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended 50 games last week, allegedly created a fictitious website and product to convince Major League Baseball he unwittingly took a banned substance.
However, MLB officials quickly were onto the ruse during the investigation of his positive test for a banned testosterone, the New York Daily News reported Sunday. The plot, which is being probed by federal authorities and MLB, could cause Cabrera more serious problems than his current ban.
Cabrera and his entourage were being investigated by, among others, Jeff Novitzky, a criminal investigative agent for the Food & Drug Administration after the All-Star Game MVP tested positive for using a synthetic testosterone.
Juan Nunez, who was called a paid consultant of Cabrera's agents, allegedly purchased a fraudulent website for $10,000 in July to try to prove the outfielder bought the testosterone from a source he thought was legit. Cabrera allegedly wanted it to appear he had ordered a supplement that caused a positive test. A clause in the MLB's collectively bargained drug program gives a player wiggle room to prove he inadvertently took a banned substance.
The website was part of Cabrera's defense that he was not responsible for his positive test. The meeting, which included Cabrera's agents, MLB officials and Players Association representatives, occurred before the outfielder was handed a 50-game suspension.
MLB officials, who quickly began asking questions, determined the website was promoting a topical cream that didn't exist.
---Former Boston Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach, not Adrian Gonzalez, was the player primarily responsible for crafting the text message sent to team ownership in July complaining about manager Bobby Valentine, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.
The message led to a meeting between frustrated players and owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino.
The message was sent from Gonzalez's phone but he was not the chief author.
Shoppach has been traded to the New York Mets since then, but still refuses to acknowledge he was the author of the email.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he told the Daily News on Saturday.
---Tony DeFrancesco, who had unprecedented success as a minor-league manager, has been named interim manager of the Houston Astros.
The Astros, who have the worst record in the major leagues at 39-82 record entering Sunday, fired manager Brad Mills on Saturday night after less than three seasons. He had a 171-272 record.
DeFrancesco's major-league experience is limited to one season as third-base coach for the Oakland A's in 2008.
---Carl Crawford, the oft-injured and underperforming outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, reportedly will follow the team's advice for his ailing left elbow, his agent said Sunday.
"Carl intends to follow the course recommended by the medical professionals who have been treating him, in whom he has full confidence," agent Brian Peters wrote to the Boston Herald. "Whether and when he has surgery will be determined by them. The Red Sox have been and remain 100 percent supportive of Carl throughout this process."
On Saturday, the Boston Globe cited an unnamed source who said Crawford would soon ask permission to have Tommy John surgery on his torn elbow ligament. The surgery would likely sideline Crawford for at least nine months.
---The Pittsburgh Pirates placed rookie outfielder Starling Marte on the disabled list Sunday with a right oblique strain.
Marte, 23, was hitting .253 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 23 games before the injury.
His roster spot was taken by outfielder Jose Tabata, who was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis. Tabata, who was batting .230 in 72 major-league games this season, was hitting .237 at Triple-A.
---Colorado Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer headed back to the disabled Sunday after re-injuring his right oblique muscle during an at-bat Saturday night.
Cuddyer was activated from the disabled list from the same injury Thursday, missing 11 games. He is batting 260 with 16 homers and 58 RBIs.
The Rockies have called up outfielder Andrew Brown from Class AAA Colorado Springs to take Cuddyer's roster spot
---Rockies Leadoff hitter Eric Young Jr. left Sunday's game after the first inning with a strained muscle to his rib cage.
Later, shortstop Josh Rutledge was removed because of a thigh injury.
---Reds first baseman Joey Votto has resumed baseball activity as he tries to rtetun following knee surgery.
Votto played catch on Saturday and on Sunday morning, he took ground balls at first base and ran on the field.
It was Votto's first field work since he had a second minor operation to remove cartilage from his knee on Aug. 10.
Votto, 28, has been out of the Reds' lineup since July 16.