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Monday, July 15, 2024

MLB Bans Padres Infielder for Betting on Baseball, Suspends Four Others

  • Tucupita Marcano hasn’t played since July 2023 due to an ACL tear.
  • Four other players received one-year suspensions.
Jul 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates Tucupita Marcano (30) fields a ground ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano has been banned for life for MLB’s gambling policies, the league announced. 

The league also announced one-year suspensions for A’s pitcher Michael Kelly, Padres pitcher Jay Groome, Phillies infielder José Rodríguez, and Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank. Kelly bet on MLB (not involving the A’s) when he was in the minor leagues, while the other three players, all of whom are in the minors, bet on major league games.

Marcano’s banishment comes at a time when professional sports are reckoning with the effects of legalized betting and an increase in betting-related incidents. In April, the NBA banned Raptors forward Jontay Porter for life after he bet on games and gave confidential information to gamblers. His banishment came weeks after Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, was revealed to have stolen more than $16 million from the two-way star to pay illegal gambling debts. Coincidentally, Marcano’s banishment comes on the day Mizuhara is expected to enter a guilty plea.

MLB said it was alerted about the betting activity by a legal sports operator. None of the impacted players participated in the games they wagered on, and all of them told MLB they had no inside information related to the games they bet on, which correlated with the information the league received from the sportsbook. 

Marcano was found to have placed 387 bets on baseball, including 231 on MLB-related wagers between October 2022 and November ’23, which totaled over $150,000. MLB found 25 of those bets were on the Pirates while Marcano was on the team’s roster. He didn’t play in those games because he was on the injured list after tearing his ACL while running the bases. However, he was at PNC Park, the Pirates’ stadium, while placing the bets. Marcano mainly bet on the outcome of games and lost all of his parlays involving the Pirates, winning just 4.3% of his MLB-type bets. 

“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,” 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.”

MLB’s gambling policy allows players to bet legally on sports other than baseball. Players who wager on baseball games that don’t involve their team results in a one-year suspension, while betting on games involving their team results in a lifetime ban, made famous by Pete Rose, the game’s all-time hits leader, in 1989, when he was managing the Reds. Marcano appears to be the first active player banned due to gambling since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell in 1924.  

Marcano was originally signed by the Padres as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2016 and made his major league debut five years later. He was traded to the Pirates in ’21 and was claimed off waivers by the team that signed him this past fall. He hit just .217 in 149 career games. 

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