As major league baseball's catchers and pitchers started training camp for the upcoming season in the third week of February, one team did so without the presence of pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo, formerly known as Leo Nunez.
The Florida Marlins player is currently stranded in the Dominican Republic, where he is originally from, fighting to regain an employment visa to enter the United States after admitting to previously using a fake name when he was younger in order to play professional baseball in the country.
The excluded pitcher is popular with his teammates, fans and the team's management. He was granted a one year contract for this year, valued at approximately $6 million. During the last three years, he appeared in an average of 70 games as a pitcher each season and saved 36 games last season.
After Oviedo came clean in September about having used a fake name to gain entrance to the United States, he was arrested while visiting his home in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 8, 2011. It was subsequently agreed that no charges will be pursued against him for having used false identity papers when signing his contract to play professional baseball.
The story points to the importance of filling out immigration papers accurately, as harsh enforcement efforts often follow any defect in documentation, whether major or merely technical.
The ballplayer in this case hopes to be readmitted to the States to continue playing, and has been talking to personnel at the U.S. embassy in his country about accomplishing that. His team, however, is currently not counting on him to report to spring training camp in light of the tangled bureaucratic mess he is involved in.
Source: The Palm Beach Post, "Miami Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) still trying to resolve fallout of using false name," Joe Capozzi, Feb. 24, 2012