There appeared to be some good news for the men formerly known as Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez earlier this week, as Dominican Today quoted William Weissman, consul general for the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic, as saying the U.S. State Department could pardon Dominican baseball players caught with a false identity.
While many ran away with that one part of his statement, Weissman also said that he wasn’t speaking in reference to any particular case and indicated that players who turn themselves in should be treated differently. Still, with plenty of misinformation flying around, the U.S. Consulate has since clarified Weissman’s comments.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the U.S. Consulate said in a series of Tweets that the main point Weissman was trying to make was that all cases are dealt with individually and that the consequences of fraud include ineligibility to enter the United States for life.
Carmona (whose real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia) was caught while trying to apply for a travel visa last month while Nunez (now known as Juan Carlos Oviedo) turned himself in last September, but they are both currently cooperating with the U.S. government. However, it’s not yet known if they’ll be granted visas in time for spring training or the start of the season. And even if they are eventually granted entry into the United States, it’s possible they could face punishment from MLB.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.