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Tucupita Marcano banned for life, four others suspended in gambling probe

Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano was banned for life by MLB on Tuesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced, for betting on Pirates games while with the team last season.

Four other players — Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Sahlfrank, Padres pitcher Jay Groome and Phillies infielder Jose Rodriguez — were suspended for one year for betting on other teams.

It turns out Marcano bet on the Pirates while he was on the injured list.

Tucupita Marcano was banned for life for betting against the Pirates while on the disabled list. Getty Images

The 24-year-old, who has earned $2.7 million during his baseball career, is batting .217 with a .589 OPS in 149 games, according to Spotrac estimates.

Kelly, 31, is in his first season with the Athletics after pitching with the Guardians last year and the Phillies in 2022.

This season, he has appeared in 28 games with a 2.59 ERA.

Michael Kelly, 31, was having the best year of his career in Oakland. Getty Images

Saalfrank, 26, spent parts of the past two seasons with the Diamondbacks and was demoted to Triple-A Reno on May 1 after giving up four runs in 1/3 innings in his last game on April 29.

The left-hander played a key role in the team’s surprising victory in last fall’s World Series, appearing in 11 games, including Games 2, 3 and 4 of the World Series, allowing three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

Spot Luck Project Saarfrank had earned $361,341 in his career but signed a fully guaranteed, one-year, $740,000 contract last offseason.

Andrew Saalfrank played a major role in helping the Diamondbacks reach the World Series. Getty Images

Marcano signed with the Padres as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2016 and was traded to the Pirates in 2021.

He last played in a major league game in July 2023, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament while baserunning.

It’s another major blow for baseball, which has been embroiled in a gambling scandal this season.

Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was indicted in April on charges of stealing more than $16 million from the Dodgers superstar to pay off betting debts with illegal bookmakers.

Ohtani’s former Angels teammate, David Fletcher, is also under investigation by MLB for allegedly gambling through the same illegal bookmaker.

according to Rule 21.(d) of the Official MLB Handbook Regarding cheating: “Any player, umpire, official or employee of any club or league who bets any amount on any baseball game in which the bettor is obligated shall be permanently disqualified.”

It also lays out the basics of legal and illegal betting.

Tucupita Marcano was a gamble for the Pirates while on the injured list. Getty Images

Fletcher, who played for the Los Angeles Angels last season, lives in California, where sports betting is not legal.

“Unlawful gambling in any sport is prohibited,” MLB’s handbook on misconduct continues, “but players are permitted to legally gamble in all sports except baseball. Betting on baseball games involving teams other than a player’s own will result in a one-year suspension, and betting on games involving a player’s own team will result in a lifetime suspension.”

Pete Rose played for and managed the Reds from 1985-1987 and was banned for life in 1989 after it was discovered he had bet on the team to win.

In April, the NBA permanently banned Raptors forward Jontay Porter for giving inside information to gambling insiders and manipulating his playing time to influence bets.

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