Tucupita Marcano faces an MLB ban for betting on baseball

Just months after Shohei Ohtani and his now-former interpreter covered up a sports betting scandal, Major League Baseball has another on its hands.

This involves Tucupita Marcano, an infielder with the San Diego Padres who is under investigation by the MLB for betting on baseball, a person familiar with the situation said Monday, confirming a report from the Wall Street Journal. MLB rules explicitly prohibit betting on baseball, meaning Marcano, a 24-year-old from Venezuela, could face a lifetime ban and become the first since Pete Rose to face such consequences for betting on his sport.

Marcano reportedly bet on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was a member of that organization last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which claimed the bets took place while he was sidelined with a torn ACL. There are no concerns that Marcano influenced Pirates games to make up for his bets, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

“We are aware of the matter under investigation and are fully cooperating,” the Pirates said in a statement Monday. “We will refrain from further comment at this time.”

“We are aware of an active investigation by Major League Baseball regarding a matter that occurred when the player in question was a member of another organization and not affiliated with the San Diego Padres,” the Padres said in a statement. “We will make no further comment until the investigation process is complete.”

MLB declined to comment and Marcano’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marcano began his MLB career with San Diego in 2021. After two seasons with Pittsburgh, he rejoined the Padres this past offseason but has yet to appear in a game while on the injured list. In his MLB career, he played in 149 games with a .217 batting average and five home runs.

The Marcano investigation is just the latest concern for baseball amid the widespread legalization of sports gambling in the United States. The issue became public in March when news broke that Ohtani’s interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, had siphoned millions from the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar to pay off gambling debts. Mizuhara has since pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.

An investigation into the alleged bookmaker, Mathew Bowyer, who allegedly took Mizuhara’s bets led to MLB opening an investigation into former Los Angeles Angels infielder David Fletcher, currently a minor leaguer in the Atlanta Braves organization. MLB allows players to bet on other sports, but betting with an illegal bookmaker is punishable by a suspension.

Rose, the all-time MLB hits leader, was blackballed in 1989 while managing the Cincinnati Reds. He remains the game’s most high-profile example of a person receiving that fate in recent decades, which is why he’s been left out of the Hall of Fame.

Even though the MLB plasters clubhouse doors with warnings against baseball betting and makes teams spend spring training mornings drilling the rules into the minds of players, it has never been easier to bet on a game. And MLB has never made betting on its games more central than it is now, when odds, prop bets and sportsbook ads saturate every broadcast.

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