CLEVELAND – Apparently Fausto Carmona isn’t Fausto Carmona after all. And he’s a little older, too.
In a bizarre story coming out of the Dominican Republic on Thursday, the Indians right-hander was arrested in his native country and charged with falsifying his identity to obtain a U.S. Visa.
According to the charges, Carmona’s real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia. He is also allegedly 31-years-old, not 28, as the Indians believed when they exercised a $7 million option on the pitcher for the 2012 season Oct. 31.
Cleveland’s general manager Chris Antonetti released a statement regarding the incident:
“We were recently made aware of the situation that occurred today in the Dominican Republic and are currently in the process of gathering information. We are not prepared to make any additional comment at this time.”
Carmona, whose birthday is listed as Dec. 7, 1983, in the Indians media guide, was reportedly arrested outside of the U.S. consulate in Santo Domingo, where he had gone to renew his Visa to return to America for spring training. Cleveland pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., for training camp Feb. 19.
Carmona is unlikely to arrive on time in Goodyear as he works through his current Visa problems. The Indians may be able to void Carmona’s contract – a four-year deal signed in 2008 that includes options in 2012, 2013 ($9 million) and 2014 ($12 million). It is unlikely Cleveland would go that route, since the club would only owe Carmona the 2012 option and could decline the options in ’13 and ’14.
The sinker-ball pitcher was the Indians’ opening day starter last season, going 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 32 starts.
Carmona’s career in Cleveland has been a rollercoaster. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2007 after going 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA – the same season rotation mate CC Sabathia won the award, and the last time the Indians have qualified for the postseason. That year came one season removed from a failed bid as closer.
Carmona’s production has fallen substantially since. He went 8-7 with a 5.25 ERA in 2008, followed by a 5-12 record and 6.32 ERA in 2009 – a season that included a demotion to the Arizona Rookie League. He was able to bounce back in 2010, when he went 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA in 33 starts and was named Cleveland’s lone All-Star. Last year began dubiously for Carmona, who allowed 10 earned runs in just three innings of a 15-10 loss to the White Sox in the season opener at Progressive Field.
Carmona is the second big leaguer to be arrested in four months in a false identity case. Marlins reliever Leo Nunez, who admitted to falsifying his name and age in order to play professional baseball, was arrested in September. His real name Juan Carlos Oviedo and he is 29, not 28.
Carmona’s agent told The Associated Press that he was caught off-guard by the arrest and that there are Dominican lawyers working the issue.
“This took us by complete surprise,” Jay Alou said. “What we have to do now is wait to find out the process that has to be done with the consulate with this new identity in order to see if he can get a new work visa.”
Two more aboard
The Indians continued to bolster their depth Thursday, signing relief pitcher Jeremy Accardo and outfielder Fred Lewis to minor-league contracts. Both received invitations to major league spring training camp.
Accardo, 30, went 3-3 with a 5.73 ERA in 31 games for the Orioles last year. The right-hander served as Kansas City’s closer in 2007, going 4-4 with a 2.14 ERA and 30 saves in 64 games. If he makes the club, Accardo will earn $825,000 with performance bonuses totaling $300,000.
Lewis, 31, is a career .267 hitter in six seasons for San Francisco, Toronto and Cincinnati. He batted .230 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 81 games last year for the Reds. Lewis will earn $725,000 is he makes the club, with a possible $500,000 in performance bonuses.
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