September 22, 2011
The Associated Press reports that the Florida Marlins closer and Dominican native has been playing under an assumed name for all seven of his years in Major League Baseball and is actually older than the age that's listed by the team.
The news came to light on Thursday as Nunez returned to the Dominican Republic to sort the issue out and was placed on the Marlins' restricted list. It probably goes without saying that he is not expected to pitch for the Marlins the last week of the season.
[Two sources] said the Marlins have been aware of the issue for several months. [...]
One of the people said Nunez's real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo and he's 29, a year older than listed in the team media guide.
Though Thursday's news was sudden, it shouldn't come as a total shock. Young players in Latin America have been known to forge identification or assume other identities in order to appear younger and secure better signing bonuses. Back in 2009, Sports Illustrated revealed that a 19-year-old Washington Nationals prospect named Esmailyn Gonzalez was actually a 23-year-old named Carlos Lugo. The fraud prompted the FBI to investigate the possible skimming of foreign players' signing bonuses and the incident cost GM Jim Bowden and front office assistant Jose Rijo their jobs. Lugo, meanwhile, returned to the Nationals under his correct name this year for extended spring training.
How this will all sort out for Nunez/Oviedo is anybody's guess, but there's a lot at stake for him. After saving 92 games for the Marlins over the last three seasons, he's about to enter his third and final year of arbitration and would enter free agency in 2013.
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