Sources: Docs link 5 players to clinic
MIAMI -- Five more professional baseball players have connections to a South Florida clinic at the heart of a widening doping scandal, according to documents obtained by "Outside the Lines."
The new players listed in documents from the Biogenesis of America clinic run by Anthony Bosch: San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, 26, the reigning National League stolen-base champion; Jordan Norberto, 26, a lefty reliever with the Oakland A's; Fernando Martinez, 24, a Houston Astros outfielder; Fautino De Los Santos, 27, a reliever claimed off waivers by the Padres; and Cesar Puello, 21, a top Mets outfield prospect.
Sources said the players, like those who have been named in previous Biogenesis documents, were on a list as having received performance-enhancing drugs, although the documents are not proof that the players either received or used PEDs.
According to two sources familiar with Bosch's operation, however, the Washington Nationals' Gio Gonzalez, previously identified as being named in Biogenesis documents, did not receive banned substances from Bosch or the clinic.
Both sources, speaking independently, identified Gonzalez as the only Bosch client named thus far who did not receive performance-enhancing drugs. A document obtained by "Outside the Lines" bolsters their case: On a computer printout of clients, Gonzalez, identified by the code name "Gladiator," is said to have received $1,000 worth of substances, but under "notes" are several substances not banned by Major League Baseball: "gluthetyn" (which a source said was a misspelling of glutathione), "IM [intramuscular] shots" and amino acids.
Glutathione is an anti-oxidant, and one source said the "IM shots" Gonzalez received were "MICs," a medically dubious but legal combination of methionine, inositol and choline, often used for weight loss.
At least 25 players, either by name or nickname, are identified in the Biogenesis documents. Sources have indicated the number of MLB players who dealt with Bosch over the years could be significantly higher.
Two of the five new named players, Puello, De Los Santos and Martinez, are clients of ACES, the sports agency owned by brothers Seth and Sam Levinson. The other two, Cabrera and Norberto, are former ACES clients. All told, 10 players identified as Biogenesis clients have ties to ACES, and most have been connected by sources or documents as having worked with Juan Carlos Nunez, who worked for ACES as a liaison to players. Seth and Sam Levinson have said they had no knowledge of Nunez's extensive work with Biogenesis and said he was temporarily employed by them as a contractor.
Puello, speaking briefly to reporters Wednesday, deflected questions about links to the clinic.
"All the questions [should] go to the players' association," Puello said. "I'm here for play[ing] baseball. And we can talk about baseball. I've got to go work."
Seth Levinson declined comment Tuesday on the new documents and the players named but issued a statement denying the agency's knowledge:
"Other than those players who have previously tested positive, we have seen no evidence to conclude that any of the players mentioned recently in the media were involved with performance enhancing drugs.
"As we've stated unequivocally before: anyone who knows us knows that it is absolutely ridiculous to think that we would ever condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs. We have represented many hundreds of players over 25 years, and our track record makes it perfectly clear that we do things the right way. Neither Sam nor I or anyone else at ACES have ever met or even heard of Anthony Bosch until the recent news stories nor does anyone have any knowledge of or connection to Biogenesis.
"Moreover, Juan Nunez ceased doing work on behalf of the agency as soon as we learned of his wrongdoing in the Melky Cabrera matter. The MLBPA's investigation into that matter found that we had no involvement in or knowledge of any wrongdoing. Similarly, in this case, we are not involved and do not have any knowledge as to what took place or who was involved.
"We don't think it is responsible to speculate further given the complete lack of evidence."
Scott Boras, agent for Everth Cabrera, said Tuesday: "We can't comment until we do due diligence on this, as he's been a client of ours as of November."
Barry Praver of Praver Shapiro Sports Management said his firm has only represented Norberto since the end of last season and had no comment. Attempts to obtain a comment from the San Diego Padres were unsuccessful.
The new records also provide additional reference to players previously mentioned in media reports as being listed in Biogenesis paperwork, including Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Braun and Yasmani Grandal. Each has denied receiving PEDs, but Braun said he used Bosch as a consultant last year. Cervelli said he consulted Bosch last year when he was injured.
Topping the newest players identified in Biogenesis records is Everth Cabrera, no relation to Melky. Everth is a native of Nicaragua and split time between Triple-A and San Diego after first appearing on the big league roster in 2009. He dazzled on the base paths upon being called up last May, as he stole 44 bases in 48 attempts. He signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract entering this season.
MLB has been investigating the connection between ACES and Biogenesis since last summer when Melky Cabrera tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Cabrera, with the apparent help of Nunez, attempted to avoid a 50-game suspension by creating a phony website for a supplement he claimed had inadvertently cause his positive test.
Sources have told "Outside the Lines" that Nunez has also assisted Bosch in his clinic's dealings with Latin players. The name "Juan" is referenced in Bosch's handwritten notes as a player contact, with notations next to player names such as, "Waiting to hear from Juan Re: delivery" or in apparent reference to player fees: "Juan (How much)??"
Nunez has not responded to multiple attempts for comment.
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One of the documents obtained by "Outside the Lines" lists players by name, with a fee, the abbreviation for Florida or Arizona and often a month alongside -- presumably in 2012. Everth Cabrera is listed with $1,500 in March; Puello $1,000; De Los Santos $700 in March; Martinez $2,000 in both February and March; and Norberto $2,000 a month.
Some of the game's millionaire marquee stars are listed right alongside the journeymen and minor leaguers. In front of Alex Rodriguez's name is the abbreviation for Florida, followed by amounts of $4,000 and $3,000. Rodriguez is listed elsewhere with $4,500 written next to his name. He is also identified as "Caciques," a clinic nickname given by Bosch, in another 2012 handwritten note that makes reference to text him about fees. On the computer printout, an entry next to "Caciques" says $7,500 and indicates that the fee was paid.
MLB officials have been investigating Bosch and his connections to major league players since his name was brought to their attention in August. Investigators have not received cooperation from players or former Biogenesis employees. Without official documents such as shipping receipts or sworn testimony about Bosch's business records, MLB would not be able to suspend players under its drug policy.
Bosch told "Outside the Lines" the allegations against him are "bulls---" and "all wrong."
Since last season's All-Star Game, three MLB players whose names appear in Biogenesis records -- Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Grandal -- have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. Cabrera, in the midst of a breakout season with the San Francisco Giants, walked away with MVP honors in the All-Star Game played last July in Kansas City.
The other players linked Tuesday to the clinic have had mixed professional careers:
Norberto was shut down in late August with shoulder tendinitis, but before that posted a 4-1 record and 2.77 ERA in 39 games with Oakland. He allowed 37 hits and struck out 46 over 52 innings.
Martinez was claimed off waivers by the Astros from the New York Mets in 2011. Martinez, a Dominican Republic native, signed as a 16-year-old international free agent in 2005 for $1.4 million and quickly rose to top prospect status with the Mets, though his progress was hampered by repeated stays on the disabled list.
De Los Santos opened last season in the Oakland A's system before being acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers in July.
Puello is on the Mets' 40-man roster and in the club's spring training camp. He was signed out of the Dominican as a 16-year-old in 2007. He is expected to open the season in Double-A after missing extensive time last year with a broken bone in his hand.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin was used in this report.