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