Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Florida for spring training. Absent from the Miami Marlins' training camp this year is Juan Carlos Ovieda, due to a snag in immigration. Many Florida marlins fans know the relief pitcher by the name Leo Nunez, who allegedly used a fake name to play pro ball. Now the Major League ball player is caught up in an immigration issue. He is working on obtaining a work visa to allow him to re-enter the country to rejoin his teammates at spring training.
Ovieda is in the Dominican Republic and plans to visit the U.S. Embassy next week in relation to the immigration issue. The Miami Marlins have a one-year deal with the relief pitcher, but when the immigration issue surfaced last summer, the team made some backup plans in case Ovieda does not resolve the work visa issue.
The team signed Heath Bell to a three year deal last December. Nonetheless, Ovieda is still under a $6 million contact to play baseball in Florida. Several of the players with the Marlins talk about Ovieda's immigration headaches nearly every day at training camp.
The relief pitcher was arrested on Dec. 8, 2011, in the Dominican Republic, but authorities there quickly released him. Authorities say that Ovieda will not be charged for using the false name in his home country. He allegedly did that at an early age to get a baseball contract, with the hopes of becoming a Major League ball player. The player has apologized to Miami fans and hopes to resolve the immigration issue soon.
Source: Palm Beach Post, "Miami Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) still trying to resolve fallout of using false name," Joe Capozzi, Feb. 23, 2012