- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 29, 2009

VIERA, Fla. | The Dominican prospect who falsified his identity before signing with the Washington Nationals three years ago may not return to the United States this season.

Carlos Alvarez, the player formerly known as Esmailyn Gonzalez, remains in the Dominican Republic and has yet to secure a work visa that would allow him to enter the country. Nationals president Stan Kasten said there is still “a lot going on behind the scenes” but added the shortstop may not make it back in time for the season.

“There’s still a chance he winds up playing here,” Kasten said. “It would need to be soon, and so I wouldn’t rule that out at all. But things have to happen first.”

Gonzalez claimed to be 16 when the Nationals gave him a $1.4 million signing bonus in July 2006. An investigation headed by Major League Baseball determined Alvarez is four years older than he claimed. The ensuing controversy led in part to front office executive Jose Rijo’s firing and general manager Jim Bowden’s resignation.

Kasten and acting GM Mike Rizzo flew to the Dominican Republic on Thursday to check on the progress of the club’s new facility in the town of Boca Chica. It previously was based at a complex owned by Rijo but was moved as the scandal became public.

Kasten said he was impressed by the work being done at the facility. The club plans to promote nine of the 31 players in its Dominican program to extended spring training in Florida on April 7.

“Things are looking good already, and I’m very optimistic going forward,” Kasten said.

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