It’s now likely that Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, will pitch with the Indians in the very near future.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Hernandez has received his U.S. visa and is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland tonight. He’s scheduled to meet with reporters tomorrow at Progressive Field and will throw a simulated game for the Indians next week.
Hernandez was arrested in January in his native Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity. He reached a deal in March to have the charges dropped in exchange for completing a work program.
While Hernandez will be back in the United States this weekend, he will not join the Indians’ starting rotation right away. Hoynes was told that Hernandez will have to serve a three-week suspension first. The suspension will begin today, so he’ll be eligible to return on August 11.
The Indians were hoping that Hernandez would be able to avoid a suspension altogether, as he agreed this spring to renogotiate his contract and take a cut in guaranteed pay. Still, the punishment isn’t as severe as the eight-week suspension levied to Marlins’ right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo for falsifying his identity. Hernandez will need three or four tuneup starts in the minors anyway, so the suspension may not have a big impact on his timetable.
Hernandez posted a 5.25 ERA in 32 starts with the Indians last year. He owns a 53-66 record and a 4.59 ERA over six seasons in the majors.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.