The pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez could be returning to the Miami Marlins soon. A Dominican newspaper has reported that Juan Carlos Oviedo received a U.S. visa on Wednesday, allowing him to return to the country and begin serving an 8-week suspension from Major League Baseball for playing under a false identity.
Oviedo abruptly left the country in September to turn himself in to Dominican authorities for playing under the identity of a childhood friend named Leo Nunez. He first adopted the identity as a 17-year-old prospect, hoping to shave a year off his age and make himself a more attractive player to MLB scouts.
He was not charged with any crime by Dominican authorities, but the process of reacquiring a U.S. visa dragged on for months. The final hangup, which apparently has been cleared, was the completion of community service.
Major League Baseball originally suspended Nunez for six weeks, plus an additional two weeks of spring training, back in March. Once it became clear that he would not return to the U.S. in time for spring training, the suspension was extended to eight weeks.
The Marlins have missed him, as new closer Heath Bell has struggled throughout the young season. Other than Bell, Oviedo was the only relief pitcher on the roster with significant experience as a closer.
If Oviedo reports to the team within the next few days, he would become eligible to return from his suspension sometime around July 23. But since he did not have a chance to participate in spring training, the team would likely start him off in the minor leagues to give him a little game action before calling him up to the big club.
For his career, Oviedo has an 18-20 record, 92 saves, and a 4.34 ERA. His 92 saves are the third-most in Marlins history.