Roberto Hernandez/Fausto Carmona close to joining Indians six months after false identity arrest

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Fausto Carmona is now known as Roberto Hernandez following his January arrest in the Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity, but Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that he may soon be cleared for a work visa.

Leo Nunez of the Marlins was suspended eight weeks after it was revealed that his actual name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, but Indians general manager Chris Antonetti explained that he’s hopeful Hernandez/Carmona will avoid a suspension in large part because he agreed to re-work his contract and refund the team millions of dollars.

In an effort to speed up the visa process the Indians petitioned the State Department and Hernandez hired a lobbyist to work on his behalf. Bastian also notes that Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman “have also been involved in the case.”

All of which doesn’t necessarily mean Hernandez would be ready to jump right back into the Indians’ rotation once cleared for the work visa, but he’s been throwing regularly at the Indians’ complex in the Dominican Republic and his impending arrival may convince the team not to pursue starting pitching help at the trade deadline.

Carmona struggled last season, starting 32 games with a 5.25 ERA, but was an All-Star in 2010 and the 31-year-old right-hander has a 4.59 ERA in 150 career starts.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.