Marlins closer Leo Nunez was sent back to the Dominican Republic on Thursday and placed on Major League Baseball’s restricted list after it was revealed that he had been pitching under a fake identity since his arrival in the United States.
The right-hander’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he’s one year older than his listed age of 28.
But now more details have emerged, and the story has suddenly taken a kind of heartwarming turn. If illegal activities can be considered heartwarming.
According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Oviedo actually did the revealing himself — admitting the longtime fraud to authorities on September 7 at the dying request of his father, who passed away around the beginning of spring training.
It doesn’t change the fact that Oviedo committed a crime. And he’s obviously going to have to pay for that, perhaps even at the expense of his baseball career. But he wasn’t caught, and probably wouldn’t have ever been caught had he not turned himself in. Maybe that will help his case. Or at least keep the Marlins’ organization on his side as the Dominican and U.S. decision-makers consider repercussions.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.