By now you’ve likely heard the news that Fausto Carmona was arrested in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity.
The supposedly 28-year-old Carmona may actually be 31-year-old Roberto Hernandez Heredia. He was arrested outside of the U.S. consulate in Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic, where he went to renew his visa for a return to the United States. Carmona spent the past few months playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.
This isn’t the first time a player has been caught with a false identity, and it probably won’t be the last. Last fall, Miami Marlins pitcher Leo Nunez was arrested for using a false identity, and is supposedly actually named Juan Oviedo.
With players from Latin America, there are many cases where someone’s true age is shielded in order to earn a shot at playing in the Major Leagues. After September 11, it became more difficult to get away with this because of changes connected to visas. It obviously is still an issue though; by adopting a completely different identity it makes it easier to conceal a player’s true age. (As a side note, if you’re interested about the seedier side of baseball in Latin America, I suggest you check out the book Stealing Lives: The Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz by Arturo J. Marcano Guevara and David P. Fidler.)
As you may remember, the Indians picked up Carmona’s 2012 option earlier this off-season. If these accusations prove to be true, it’s possible that he will not make it back into the country for Opening Day. The Marlins placed Nunez/Oviedo on the restricted list, and it’s possible the Indians could do the same with Carmona.
We all are more than familiar with Carmona’s struggles, and there are probably a lot of Indians fans that are secretly glad about the fact that this may end/put a dent in his season. However, you can’t ignore the fact that Carmona is a proven innings-eater and that he has shown some signs of brilliance throughout his career. The rotation was the one portion of the Indians’ roster that seemed to have some stability this off-season. While any type of weird injuries can ruin the best of plans, you hate to see disruption before pitchers and catchers even report to Goodyear.
Now in addition to finding additional offense, the Indians need to decide if they want to try and add another starter, or if they want to head to camp with internal options competing for the fifth spot. They also have to consider the possibility that Carmona does make it back in time for Opening Day. He’s a player who seems to have a fragile psyche – many of his past struggles have been connected to mental issues. Will he be able to keep it together with all of these distractions?
The Indians are not saying much about the accusations at this point in time, so it’s tough to know what exactly may happen with Carmona. First and foremost, they have to try and find a way for him to get back into the country before he ever throws a pitch.
Is it weird that when I first heard this news, I thought “well, now what the heck do I do with my Carmona shirt?” And if he makes it back, what in the world does he put on his own jersey?