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Report: Leo Nunez has been playing under fake identity

Sep 22, 2011, 9:10 PM EDT

leo nunez getty Getty Images

Marlins closer Leo Nunez was suddenly placed on Major League Baseball’s restricted list Thursday and sent back to his native Dominican Republic.

And now we know why.

According to the Associated Press, the right-hander has been pitching under a fake name and a fake birth date since arriving in the United States back in 2001.

Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he is 29 years old — not his listed age of 28.

The Marlins have reportedly known about the issue for several months, but they’ve refused comment to this point and may remain silent until the federal government reaches some kind of ruling. This, after all, is no longer a baseball matter.

Nunez (er, Oviedo) posted an effective 4.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 55/21 K/BB ratio in 64 1/3 innings this season for the Fish, converting 36 of 42 save opportunities. He will be entering his third year of arbitration eligibility if allowed back into the country, and back into the major leagues.

  1. kingjoe1 - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    This is hilarious. The real story will be WHY was he playing under a fake name.

    I see homeland security is working. Only took 10 years to figure this out.

    • wlschneider09 - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:57 AM

      The why is simple, he doesn’t want anyone back home to find out he pitches for the Marlins :)

      • adenzeno - Sep 23, 2011 at 6:54 AM

        No one would ever see him anyway.

    • heyblueyoustink - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:36 AM

      Curious, wouldn’t this be an INS issue, not homeland security?

      • gainesweaver - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

        Uhm, the INS has been part of Homeland Security for about 9 years now.

    • heyblueyoustink - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:37 AM

      I mean really, his fastball was decent, but far from a rating of mass destruction.

  2. Charles Gates - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Leo Nunez? Really? He’s mostly guilty of lack of imagination.

  3. flyerscup2010 - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    wow leo nunez is the man

  4. The Common Man - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Let this be a lesson to you: If you don’t need a closer, you should always trade yours at the deadline. There’s no telling what could happen to them.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:32 PM

      Could this be why they didn’t trade him though? The blurb above states they knew about this for months. Could they really trade the guy knowing that a deportation is possible?

      • Bryz - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:09 PM

        Yeah, MLB or something might file a complaint stating that the Marlins knew Nunez was pitching under a fake name and traded him away to get value back for him while saddling his new team with this issue. Though with Bud Selig in charge, it would take another 10 years before the Marlins would be punished.

      • The Common Man - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:30 PM

        Wow, great point. I never would have thought of that.

      • paperlions - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:16 AM

        Earnest answers to sarcasm never work out well.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:15 AM

        Hard to tell sarcasm in print. Plus, he didn’t use the sarcasm font so you can see my confusion.

    • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 5:03 AM

      If they have “known for months” then I think its pretty likely that is the reason he didn’t get dealt at the deadline.

  5. jkcalhoun - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    What did Dayton Moore know and when did he know it? Is this why he traded Nunez/Oviedo for Mike Jacobs, under the faulty assumption that Jacobs’ identity was “a slugging first baseman”?

  6. petergammonsdrunknephew - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Wait a second. A Latin American player with a fake birth date?

  7. littledill - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    I have been posting under a fake identity, but that’s nothing like pitching.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      Yes, I’m Jason Heyward, the real Jason Heyward so…

  8. tashkalucy - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    MLB is getting to be almost as bad as the NBA.

    • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 5:09 AM


  9. Bryz - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Insert Domingo Ayala’s famous quote: “Hey, what do I put for birth year?”

  10. boots44 - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    So can I get a refund on my Nunez jersey since he never pitched for the marlins

  11. cardmagnet - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Now if only they could bust that pesky Albert Pujols…

  12. jwbiii - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    The Braves’ Jairo Asencio (formerly Luis Valdez) was denied a visa for a year. Expect the same in this case.

    Has anybody heard anything lately about Ron Belisario?

  13. ahp1 - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    Well, the Marlins have been playing fake baseball for years anyway.

  14. bigleagues - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    What the Feds have to say isn’t relevant here, what we need is a ruling from Stats, Inc!

    I need to know if I should list Nunez or Oviedo on my 2012 draft board.

  15. Old Gator - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    I would have posted earlier but I was laughing too hard. You guys think it’s funny? If you grew up here like I did, you’d be busting your ribs. Do you think I call this place Macondo for nothing?

  16. joshftw - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    A hidden past and an assumed name? Is he moonlighting as a Meth Kingpin/Fast Food Franchise Owner?

    • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 5:06 AM

      This is quite possibly the first Breaking Bad reference I have seen under HBT comments.

      • joshftw - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        Gotta mix it up a bit now and then.

  17. addictedzone - Sep 23, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    Not being all that fond of Leo’s antics, perhaps his alter ego Juan Carlos will be a more consistent closer without the need for all the gyrations of a salsa dancer.

  18. skids003 - Sep 23, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Maybe we should do like the Japanese, and only allow so many foreigners on each squad. That would cause a stink, wouldn’t it? We’re the only country in the world that cares.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      Most countries do it with their soccer clubs. They have a set number of “homegrown” roster spots that must be filled. Now, there are ways to work around it but the premise is still there.

  19. ThatGuy - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Shouldn’t the Marlins be fined by the Government for hiring an illegal immigrant? Granted they didn’t know at first, but when they found out wouldn’t continuing to play him be against federal law? This is all assuming by using a fake name his contract would be able to be voided, and most certainly his work Visa would be revoked.

    • wlschneider09 - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      Actually, if the Marlins employed Nunez/Oviedo in good faith after checking the “appropriate” documents, they won’t be punished. After that it comes down to when you can definitively prove knowledge of illegal status.

      Now should the government punish the Marlins for their management plan? That could be discussed….

      • ThatGuy - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Right, i was saying IF they continued to play him after knowledge he was basically here illegally.

      • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        I would imagine that once the Marlins discover, confirm and report the discrepancy to the authorities, it’s in the hands of the Feds. The Marlins aren’t qualified to make a determination on immigration status and I would imagine even after receiving initial word, ICE would need time to investigate, gather facts and then advise the Marlins of how to proceed (along with whatever lawyer the Marlins have working on the contract viability aspect).

      • natstowngreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 1:13 PM

        Yes. Most likely, the failure was with the Dominican Republic’s government, not catching the faked identity.

        If the U.S. government accepted the Dominican Republic government’s official visa, the Marlins’ front office is blameless. Unless they withheld evidence that that the guy got the visa illegally. Then, Immigration & Customs Enforcement might want to have a word with them. As would the DR’s equivalent agency.

  20. eaglesfan723 - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more players playing under fake identity.

    quoted from the movie “The Benchwarmers”

    Umpire: Well you got proof he’s a kid?
    Gus: Come on! Look at his beard. He’s 50.
    Wayne: Not according to birth certifico.
    [hands umpire the crumpled up paper]
    Umpire: [looks inside and sees ‘I am 12’ written in green crayon, with a picture of Carlos and $10. He carefully pockets the $10 and folds the paper back up] He’s got documentation. Play ball!

  21. natstowngreg - Sep 23, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Oh great, another case of a Ballplayer to be Named Later.

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