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In a statement released on his Twitter feed Tuesday, free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig has denied claims in a lawsuit that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2018 and said that the allegations have prevented him from continuing his Major League career.

“I am speaking out now to defend my name against false and malicious allegations by a woman who claims I assaulted her in 2018,” Puig wrote. “These allegations are totally false, the evidence proves they are false, and I look forward to all the facts and the truth coming out.”

The woman, identified in federal court documents only as Jane Roe, sued Puig last October, saying the former Dodgers outfielder followed her into a Staples Center bathroom after a Lakers game on Oct. 31, 2018, “pinned her with one arm” to prevent her from leaving, groped her and masturbated in front of her.

The woman did not file a police report. Puig has not been charged with any crime and he has previously denied the allegations in a court filing.

In his statement Tuesday, released by his attorneys, Puig said: “The fact is that I had consensual sex with a woman I met at a Lakers game after she propositioned me. Afterward we talked about going out together, but she said she did not want her fiancé to find out.”

Attorney Taylor Rayfield, who is representing the woman, said in a statement to ESPN Wednesday, “The simple fact of the matter is that our client never engaged in consensual sexual activity with Mr. Puig — not at the Staples Center Chairman’s Club, and not anywhere else.”

In her own statement, released through Rayfield, the woman said, “I am an out and proud lesbian and have been during my entire adult life. My female fiancée and I were enjoying a Lakers game at the Staples Center when this attack occurred.” She added that the notion that she would leave her fianceé for a sexual encounter in the bathroom with someone she’d just met “is demeaning and ridiculous.”

Puig said Tuesday that he and the woman “messaged each other” after their encounter and planned to get together but never did.

Puig’s Los Angeles-based attorneys, Alan Jackson and Caleb Mason, also said in their statement Tuesday that text messages between Puig and the woman help to confirm Puig’s account of what happened.

“On November 2, 2018, two days after their encounter, when Mr. Puig wrote to ask her when they could see each other again, she replied “I[‘m] working it out! I didn’t forget about you.”

Puig’s attorneys point out that the woman sent Puig heart emoji messages and that, on November 23, 2018, several weeks after the Lakers game, she messaged Puig asking him when he would be back in town.

ESPN has reviewed text message exchanges between Puig and the woman, which became public through an exhibit filed as part of the woman’s federal lawsuit.

She did send the text messages Puig’s legal team referenced but only after Puig had sent her several messages in an apparent attempt to meet privately.

Rayfield said the woman only sent those messages because she was “fearful of a further attack or retribution by Puig,” and in an attempt “to de-escalate his behavior by providing curt responses.”

In their statement Tuesday, Puig’s attorneys did not include a text message Puig sent the woman hours after the Lakers game. In that text, Puig wrote: “Private between me and me [sic] everything that happens no one has to know,” according to the transcript of text messages that appears in court documents.

Last month, ESPN reported that a number of teams had factored the allegations, as well as Puig’s declining play, into their decision making when considering him as a free-agent signing.

“Nobody wants the headache,” one front-office source told ESPN.

Puig said Tuesday he initially remained silent about the allegations against him on the advice of his attorneys and is speaking out now because of delays in the legal system and a civil case that has unfairly tarnished his image in baseball circles.

“With a mere unsupported accusation, the sports world has turned against me without ever hearing my side,” Puig said in the statement from his attorneys.

“All I ask is that I be given the chance to prove these claims false, and in the meantime, play the game that I love so much.”



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Joe Girardi, Jean Segura have confrontation as Philadelphia Phillies lose to Toronto Blue Jays

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — The injury-depleted Philadelphia Phillies lost a game, another player and their temper.

Television cameras showed a confrontation in the dugout between Phillies manager Joe Girardi and second baseman Jean Segura during Sunday’s 10-8 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Segura committed two errors. One miscue came in the first inning when Segura misplayed a soft one-hopper by Randal Grichuk.

“That’s a bench conversation, meant for the bench,” said Girardi, who was asked about a half-dozen times about the incident. “You can ask all you want; you got everything you’re going to get about it. I’m done with it.”

At one point, Segura had to be restrained by coach Dusty Wathan.

“I didn’t actually see it,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “Obviously, I heard it. It’s heat-of-the-moment stuff, right. We’re all competing. Everybody in the dugout wants to win the same amount. Sometimes that’s what happens.”

Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette hit consecutive first-inning homers, and Randal Grichuk had a two-run double in a five-run second as Toronto burst to an 8-0 lead.

Semien finished with three hits and three RBIs, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 11th homer, a solo drive in the eighth that gave him home runs in three consecutive games.

“I feel comfortable with what I’m doing mechanically,” Semien said. “That’s always good when you don’t have to worry about changing something every day. You’re just able to focus on what you’re looking for at the plate.”

Toronto won for the sixth time in eight games, moving five games over .500 for the first time this season.

Philadelphia right fielder Bryce Harper (right shoulder soreness) and catcher J.T. Realmuto (sore left wrist) were both out of the lineup after leaving Saturday night’s game early.

Harper replaced Scott Kingery in right in the sixth inning. Harper popped up a bunt for an out with two on and one out in the eighth with the Phillies down 9-4, then stranded two in the ninth with a game-ending strikeout on a full-count fastball from Jeremy Beasley, the eighth pitch of the at-bat.

Girardi said he talked with Harper about trying for a bunt hit in the sixth. The slugger took several big swings during his ninth-inning at-bat.

“I was concerned,” Girardi said. “Talked about some different things. I talked to Bryce — he said he wanted to try and he was OK, so we let him do it. I trust the player. I thought he had some swings.”

Kingery ran into the wall chasing a fly ball and later felt dizzy, and he will be evaluated.

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Royals manager Mike Matheny calls for ‘accountability’ after game-ending call stands

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CHICAGO — Add Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny to the list of people who have questioned motives behind video replay.

Matheny was on the wrong end of a review in the bottom of the ninth inning of his team’s game against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

With two outs in a 3-3 tie, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu came home on a wild pitch from reliever Wade Davis. Catcher Cam Gallagher retrieved the ball and went to tag Abreu, who slid in on the third base side of home plate. He was called safe on the field and the review upheld the call, which gave the White Sox a 4-3 win.

Replays showed Gallagher may have tagged Abreu on his jersey before he reached the plate.

“If we’re going to use video replay, there needs to be some accountability,” Matheny said after the loss. “I walked in here and had two different camera angles with this guy out. Tagged before he ever touched the plate. Very obvious. I don’t know what they’re doing, backing each other up, whatever it is. It’s wrong.”

Plays can only be overturned if video review shows a conclusive reason for it. Umpires in New York made the call with the umpires in Chicago on a headset — as is the norm. Anything short of a definitive angle to overturn a ruling means the call on the field stands.

“They have the opportunity to take that much time, and from appearances, it looks like they don’t want to bring them [the players] back onto the field while they’re here with this crowd,” Matheny said. “It’s just wrong and something has to be done about it.”

The Sox were down 3-2 going into the ninth. They tied the score on a Yoan Moncada RBI single but Moncada was eventually thrown out at the plate by Whit Merrifield on a base hit to right by Yermin Mercedes. That sent Abreu to third after he was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. Then Davis threw the wild pitch, bringing Abreu home.

“They said he was safe,” White Sox right-fielder Adam Eaton said. “They even got replay. I had a pretty good view of it. Bang, bang play. Heck of a slide by Jose. We’ll definitely take it.”

Matheny disagreed.

“You could see the jersey move when he tagged him on the body,” he said.

The result of the play meant the Sox and Royals split their four-game series.

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Shane Bieber’s record strikeout streak ends, as Seattle Mariners chase Cleveland Indians ace early

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SEATTLE — Shane Bieber‘s record strikeout streak ended Sunday when the Seattle Mariners sent the Cleveland ace to an early exit.

Bieber had fanned at least eight in 20 straight games. But the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fell just short against the Mariners, striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings.

Bieber left trailing 3-0 with the bases loaded in his shortest outing of the season.

The 25-year-old right-hander leads the majors with 92 strikeouts. Bieber started the season with 10 or more strikeouts in his first four outings, another major league record.

The last time Bieber didn’t strike out at least eight in a regular-season game was his final start of the 2019 season. He struck out seven last year in a playoff start against the Yankees.

Bieber allowed a run in the first inning Sunday. In all of 2020, he allowed only one run in the first inning.

In the series finale, Cleveland is attempting to gain a split of the four games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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