Oviedo closer to being granted visa

Oviedo closer to being granted visa

Oviedo closer to being granted visa
MIAMI -- Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, on Major League Baseball's restricted list, is moving closer to being a granted a visa that would clear him to return to the United States.

Oviedo, formerly known as Leo Nunez, has received a pardon from the U.S. State Department, according to an ESPN.com report. The pardon was mandatory to being granted eligibility for a visa to travel to the United States.

The Marlins placed Oviedo on the restricted list last September when it was revealed that he was playing under a false identity. Since then, the 30-year-old right-hander has been in the Dominican Republic resolving issues related to his identity.

Oviedo could be granted a visa within a few days.

According to the Marlins, nothing is finalized regarding Oviedo's status.

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he was to meet later on Wednesday with general manager Michael Hill regarding Oviedo.

"They're supposed to talk to me about it," Guillen said before the Marlins faced the Rockies on Wednesday at Marlins Park. "I don't know much about it."

Oviedo had 36 saves in 42 chances for the Marlins last year. And he's had 92 saves the past three years.

The right-hander is signed for $6 million this year, but he won't get paid until he is cleared to play.

Even after he is cleared to return to the U.S. and resume his career, Oviedo faces a likely suspension, which could be at least two months.

Getting Oviedo into the bullpen could be a boost for the Marlins. Heath Bell is the closer, but Oviedo could add depth to the setup role.

"If this kid pitches like he has in the past, our ballclub is going to be better," Guillen said. "It's like making a trade in July. I feel bad for the kid, man. I know how that thing works. Even when you're guilty, you're not guilty. That's a very special case. I think we appreciate how [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] handled everything for him."

Cases like Oviedo are not unusual in the big leagues. Players from countries like the Dominican Republic can sign when they are 16 years old. Sometimes, players who are 17 or 18 will go by false identities, claiming they are 16 to get a more lucrative offer.

"It's not those guys' faults," said Guillen, a Venezuela native. "They do something, and they don't even know about it."

Guillen believes teams could help resolve the problem by being willing to sign older players.

For example, a pitcher who throws 85 mph at age 16 will often be signed before a player who throws 85 at age 17. So you see players falsifying their ages to get signed.

"There is one cure for that: Start signing kids in Latin America when they're 19 and 20," the Marlins manager said. "Most of those kids when you are in Latin America, if you are 18, they don't sign you because you're too old.

"That's the only problem, I see, is why these kids change their names, change their ages and do stupid things. When you're 18, you're too old to sign. That's my opinion."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.