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."