Indians awaiting word on fate of Hernandez

Indians awaiting word on fate of Hernandez

Indians awaiting word on fate of Hernandez
CLEVELAND -- Another domino has fallen, but it remains unclear how much longer it will be before Roberto Hernandez is granted permission to return to the United States from the Dominican Republic in order to pitch for the Indians.

Over the weekend, Marlins pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo -- mired for eight months in a similar false-identity situation as Hernandez -- received a visa from the U.S. and reported to Miami's complex in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday. It is not known at this point whether the resolution of Oviedo's case will expedite the process for Hernandez.

"They're in the same type of situation," Indians manager Manny Acta said recently. "So I guess it'll have some type of influence on it."

Major League Baseball handed Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) an eight-week suspension in light of the identity-fraud issue. The Indians are hopeful that the fact that they drastically restructured Hernandez's contract will help the pitcher avoid a suspension, or at the very least avoid such a lengthy punishment.

For now, Cleveland continues to keep tabs on Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) as he works through a throwing program in the D.R.

"We continue to be in touch with his representatives," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "But there's no real news to report. It's still in the hands of the State Department. He's working out at our complex in the Dominican."

Hernandez signed with the Indians as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican in December 2000, when the team thought he was 17. Over six seasons with the Tribe, the right-hander has gone 53-66 with a 4.59 ERA. In 2011, he served as the Indians' Opening Day starter, but he ended the year 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 32 outings.

On Jan. 19, Hernandez was arrested outside the American consulate in Santo Domingo, D.R., when he was attempting to renew his visa to report to Spring Training with the Tribe. Hernandez, whose birth date was listed as Dec. 7, 1983, when he used Carmona's identity, was actually born on Aug. 30, 1980.

In a recent interview, Antonetti said the process of getting Hernandez back to the United States has not necessarily gone on longer than the Indians expected.

"Not really. We didn't really have any expectations," Antonetti said. "We understood the complexities of the process from the very beginning. Really, as I've communicated to you guys, we didn't really have any sort of expectations on a time frame. So to say it's either exceeded or been beyond, I'm not sure that's very fair."