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.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.