Cleveland Indians starter Fausto Carmona was arrested in the Dominican Republic on Thursday on charges of using a false identity.
Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press reported that Carmona is actually 31 — not 28, as he’s listed on the Indians’ official website — and that his name is actually Roberto Hernandez. The legal action could prevent Carmona from leaving the Dominican Republic and joining the Indians in time for spring training.
“We were recently made aware of the situation that occurred today in the Dominican Republic and are currently in the process of gathering information,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said in a statement. The team declined to comment further.
Carmona’s agent said he was caught off-guard by the arrest and that there are Dominican lawyers working on the player’s behalf. He did not disclose the names of the lawyers.
”This took us by complete surprise,” agent 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.”
Over the years, some players from the Dominican Republic have assumed false identities as a way to appear younger and garner larger contracts from Major League Baseball clubs. Carmona has earned more than $15 million in his career, according to data at Baseball-Reference.com, and is set to make $7 million this year.
If Carmona is forced to remain in the Dominican Republic, the Indians may be able to place him on the restricted list and avoid paying his salary during that time.
The loss of Carmona would damage the Indians’ chances to contend in the American League Central. Despite a poor 2011 season — 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA — he was expected to contribute to the Cleveland rotation this season. Without him, the Cleveland rotation would consist of Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin and David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez.
This is the second such controversy involving a prominent major-league pitcher in the past several months. Miami Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo was placed on the restricted list last year after it was found he had been using a false identity (Leo Nuñez) throughout his professional career.