CLEVELAND (AP) - From year to year and game to game, the Cleveland Indians never knew what to expect from Fausto Carmona.
On Thursday, he stunned them again.
Carmona, the Indians’ opening-day starter last season, was arrested in the Dominican Republic for allegedly using a false identity. Officials in his native country are contesting his real name and birthdate.
Police spokesman Maximo Baez Aybar said Carmona was arrested in Santo Domingo outside the U.S. consulate, where he had gone to renew his visa. Carmona had played winter ball in the Dominican as he prepared to report to the Indians’ training camp in Goodyear, Ariz., next month.
At this point, his future with the club is uncertain.
Aybar said Carmona’s real name is apparently Roberto Hernandez Heredia and he’s 31, three years older than the pitcher claimed. The Indians list Carmona’s birthday as Dec. 7, 1983, in their 2011 media guide.
“We were recently made aware of the situation that occurred today in the Dominican Republic and are currently in the process of gathering information,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We are not prepared to make any additional comment at this time.”
Carmona’s agent said he was caught off-guard by the arrest and that there are Dominican lawyers working on the player’s behalf. He did not disclose the names of the lawyers.
“This took us by complete surprise,” agent Jay Alou said. “What we have to do now is wait to find out the process that has to be done with the consulate with this new identity in order to see if he can get a new work visa.”
Carmona’s arrest is the second involving a major leaguer in four months in a false identity case. Miami Marlins reliever Leo Nunez was arrested in September. Last month, an apologetic Nunez said he falsified his identify when he was young so he could play professional baseball. Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo and he’s 29, a year older than listed in the Marlins’ media guide.
Carmona’s career in Cleveland has been one of extremes.
After going 1-10 in 2006, the right-hander with a wicked slider came out of nowhere to win 19 games in 2007, shocking the Indians who had briefly experimented with him as a closer. Carmona, though, followed up with a disappointing 2008 season, and in 2009 the club sent him to the lower minors to work on his mechanics.
Carmona rebounded to win 13 games in 2010 in manager Manny Acta’s first season. Although he went just 7-15 last season, Carmona stayed healthy, didn’t miss a start and was expected to be part of the starting rotation this season. The Indians picked up his $7 million option for 2012 in October.
The Indians signed Carmona to a four-year contract in 2008. The club has options on him for 2013 at $9 million and 2014 at $12 million.
Cleveland signed Carmona as a free agent in 2000.
Soldevila reported from the Dominican Republic.
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