Nearly four years after facing a murder charge in the Dominican Republic, former San Francisco Giants
prospect Angel Villalona reported on Friday to spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
But the 22-year-old would rather focus on baseball and not talk about the night in September 2009 when a barroom shooting left a 25-year-old man dead.
"I'm not going to talk about that," Villalona told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I just want to concentrate on baseball. ... Just like the people [in the Giants organization] have confidence in me, I did the same thing and tried to work [in winter ball] ... I'm just thankful for a second opportunity."
Villalona was incarcerated on house arrest for nearly two years in the Dominican Republic following his arrest. The charges eventually were dropped -- there were reports that he settled with the victim's family to avoid a civil lawsuit -- but during that time, his visa also was stripped by the United States.
He had intended on returning to the United States last year to resume his baseball career but his visa application was denied on the basis that the first baseman was not an "elite athlete."
Villalona said he ballooned to 290 pounds last year and was unsure if that is why his visa application was denied. He also would not discuss reports that he sued the Giants for $5 million for a breach of contract.
Villalona received a $2.1 million bonus when San Francisco signed him at age 16 in 2006.
Baseball American twice has ranked Villalona one of the top 50 prospects in the game. In 38 minor-league games, he has a .272 batting average and has hit 38 home runs.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Villalona has rededicated himself and admitted that it has been a long journey for Villalona. "He's excited about getting another opportunity. We're getting ready for the season and he'll be part of it."
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