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Miami Marlins Wiretap
With the Coco Crisp trade complete, the Red Sox are expected to turn their attention to filling a hole at shortstop with free agent Alex Gonzalez. Had the trade fallen apart, the Red Sox might have reconsidered signing Gonzalez and searched out a trade for a shortstop, possibly involving bargaining chips leftover from a Crisp deal.
Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, after all.
The U.S. Treasury Department issued a license Friday allowing the Cubans to participate in the 16-team tournament.
Major League Baseball's first application was denied in mid-December by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, but the commissioner's office and the players' association reapplied after Cuba said it would donate any profits it receives to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. laws aimed at punishing Fidel Castro's communist government prohibit certain commercial transactions with Cuba, generally attempting to deny money.
"Working closely with World Baseball Inc. and the State Department, we were able to reach a licensable agreement that upholds both the legal scope and the spirit of the sanctions," Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said.
"This agreement ensures that no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime. The Treasury is pleased to now be able to issue this license and looks forward to seeing all of the teams showcase their talents on the international stage."
Dontrelle Willis reached agreement Monday with the Florida Marlins on a one-year, guaranteed $4.35 million contract, easily breaking the record for a starting pitcher in his first year of salary arbitration.
Willis' deal includes an additional $200,000 in incentive bonuses that could bring the overall package to $4.55 million.
Willis, 24, went 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA last year and finished second to St. Louis' Chris Carpenter in balloting for the National League Cy Young Award. His deal surpasses the previous high of $3.825 million by Toronto's Roy Halladay in 2003.
"I'm kind of dumbfounded," Willis told ESPN.com. "I graduated from high school in 2000 and I'm a millionaire right now. I never even dreamed of being in this situation."
Miguel Cabrera's agent blasted as "sensationalism'' Venezuelan newspaper reports that detailed the Marlins third baseman's alleged involvement in an incident last week outside a Maracay nightclub.
El Aragueno reported that Cabrera allegedly was involved in a physical assault at 5 a.m. Friday as he was leaving the recently opened nightclub. The alleged victim's father, Dr. Gustavo Agreda, told the paper that Cabrera, who was with his father and two cousins who serve as his bodyguards, insulted Carlos Agreda's girlfriend at the club. A fight then broke out and Carlos Agreda suffered minor injuries, according to the report.
Andy Mota, Cabrera's agent, said Cabrera was the victim of an overzealous autograph seeker who was verbally abusive.
"The guy was very aggressive about wanting an autograph and Miguel wanted to go home,'' Mota said. "He's very upset he has to deal with this. Miguel is playing ball. He's in the (Caribbean winter league) playoffs. This is a distraction he does not want.''
Cabrera was called as a witness by the Investigative and Criminal Police Corps, which conducts most criminal investigations in Venezuela, and gave a statement. He has been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to Mota.
"I didn't hit anybody and nobody hit me,'' Cabrera said in a statement released by his winter-league club, the Aragua Tigers. "I was in the company of a group of people leaving a locale in the city of Maracay when a fight broke out in which I was not involved.''
El Aragueno reported Tuesday that it still was being investigated whether Cabrera was involved. Terry Rojas, an official from the Maracay government, told the paper that Cabrera was called to testify as a witness, "because the victim did not accuse him directly, but did mention him.''
Marlins General Manager Larry Beinfest said Tuesday the organization "is aware of the matter.'' Marlins officials are confident Cabrera is innocent of any wrongdoing, according to a team spokesperson.
Florida Marlins representatives plan to meet next week with Portland, Ore. officials about the team's possible relocation to the city in the event it can't get a baseball-only stadium in South Florida.
Marlins president David Samson will travel to Portland on Monday for a one-day visit, team spokesman P.J. Loyello said Friday. Samson will be accompanied by Marlins vice chairman Joel Mael and Claude Delorme, who is in charge of stadium development.
Since their inception in 1993, the Marlins have shared the Miami Dolphins' home, owned by Wayne Huizenga. The Marlins' lease with the stadium is in effect until 2007, and the team could move after that.
Marlins Jan 2006 Archive