One of the Detroit Tigersâ€™ relief pitchers is stuck in the Dominican Republican on â€?immigration problems,â€? said Dave Dombrosky , the teamâ€™s president and general manager, last night during an ESPN broadcast of the Tigers humiliating 13-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Last month, the Detroit News confirmed that Francisco Cruceta, one of the Tiger players acquired during the off-season, â€?ran into not only a visa holdup in trying to leave the Dominican Republic, he ran into visa captivity for reasons the State Department has not divulged. He never made it to spring training.â€? [The Foils To the Tigersâ€™ Toils, Detroit News, March 29, 20008]
Why the Tigers would be in a hurry to get Crucetta, with his 10.05 MLB career ERA , is a mystery. But one hopes that this may mark the beginning of closer State Department scrutiny of visa applications from foreign-born players.
Evidence indicates that, like many other visa holders, baseball players donâ€™t always return home when their time is up.
In my 2005 column about baseball and visa over-stayers, I quoted former Cincinnati Reds manager Ron Plaza:
"Out of 10 (Dominican players) who are released, I'd say nine stay here illegally. They would rather live in the worst areas of New York than go back home. You can't handcuff them to the plane, so there is very little we can do."