Giants prospect Villalona delayed by visa problem

San Francisco Giants prospect Angel Villalona has had his visa

delayed back home in the Dominican Republic for what the team was

told are weight and health issues.

Bobby Evans, Giants vice president of baseball operations, says

the club is hopeful the concerns of the U.S. Consulate in the

Dominican Republic are ”short-lived.”

”We’re hoping we’ll be able to get past the delay at some

point,” Evans said Tuesday. ”They cited health reasons and he’s

on a visa that’s really set aside for elite athletes, which is an

expectation that he’s in a certain level of conditioning that would

afford him that opportunity. And they didn’t deem him where he

should be, and yet we’ve been working with him the last couple of

months and feel like he’s awful close, so we’re a little


Villalona was charged in the September 2009 death of a

25-year-old man at a bar in his Caribbean homeland. He was freed on

bond that November after the family of the deceased asked a judge

to drop the case. But Villalona was also stripped of his U.S. visa

at the time.

Last October, Villalona said he had dropped a lawsuit against

the Giants seeking $5 million in damages after the team decided to

reinstate him to its farm system. He alleged the Giants kept him on

the inactive list even though he had been cleared of homicide

charges. Villalona had sought back wages and punitive damages.

Now, he has a locker at Scottsdale Stadium waiting for his

spring arrival – if it happens, that is. Villalona was added to the

Giants’ 40-man roster in November.

He received a $2.1 million bonus when San Francisco signed him

at age 16 in August 2006. It was the biggest bonus the franchise

had ever given to an amateur player.

He was considered among the club’s top prospects before the 2008

season and was selected for the Futures Game during All-Star

festivities that year. San Francisco reportedly outbid the New York

Yankees, Mets, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners for


The 6-foot-3, 200-pound slugging first baseman had drawn

comparisons to Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Wily Mo Pena. He

played in 74 games for Class-A San Jose in `09, batting .267 with

nine home runs and 42 RBIs.

Also Tuesday, ace Tim Lincecum did not throw as planned because

he is nursing stiffness in his back. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t

consider it serious.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and projected opening day

starter played catch on flat ground on a back field before going

inside for treatment. He joins fellow starter and 2011 All-Star

Ryan Vogelsong as pitchers with back injuries already early in

camp. Vogelsong strained his back lifting weights at home in

Pennsylvania on Feb. 7 and isn’t likely to throw for up to two

weeks. He also spent Sunday night and Monday fighting the stomach


Lincecum should be back on the mound soon.

”General stiffness. It’s a pretty normal thing in spring

training,” Bochy said. ”That’s how we’re looking at it right now.

He played a little catch on a back field earlier and we’ll see how

he’s feeling tomorrow. I don’t see this being an issue at all. He

was pretty stiff. We weren’t going to push it.”

Position players getting their work in Tuesday – three days

ahead of the first full-squad session – included slugger Pablo

Sandoval and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who is returning from

labrum surgery on his right shoulder and is not expected to be

ready until the second week of Cactus League action next month. He

also might be used as a designated hitter in some games if the

opposing team agrees to that arrangement.

The Giants greatly missed having Sanchez’s sure-handed glove

helping turn double plays and also his reliable presence high in

the batting order.

Sanchez was a key part of the 2010 World Series championship run

for San Francisco, which failed to reach the playoffs last fall

after finishing second in the NL West to surprising Arizona.

”He’s a big part of it – the No. 2 hitter, also a good defender

out there with experience,” Bochy said. ”He could have softened

the blow of losing a guy like Buster (Posey) because he can hit two

or three hole or you can put him down in the order a little bit. We

missed the bat, there’s no getting around it. It caught up with