Indians expect Hernandez to bolster rotation

Indians expect Hernandez to bolster rotation

Indians expect Hernandez to bolster rotation
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Indians are in the market for a starting pitcher as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches, but the organization is also confident that it will receive one of its own arms back in the near future.

According to multiple sources, pitcher Roberto Hernandez is expected to soon be receiving a new visa from the State Department, which would allow the right-hander to return to the United States. Hernandez remains in his native Dominican Republic, where he continues to train at Cleveland's baseball academy.

"Things are moving forward," said a person with knowledge of the situation. "It's looking a lot better right now."

Hernandez was arrested on Jan. 19 in the Dominican Republic for using the false name Fausto Carmona. The pitcher -- originally signed by Cleveland as a non-drafted free agent in 2000 -- has gone 53-66 with a 4.59 ERA over six seasons with the Tribe.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti has been in contact with Stephen Payne, a visa expert and lobbyist hired by Hernandez's representatives, throughout the ongoing process. Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have also been involved in the case.

"We've done everything we can," Antonetti said last month. "We've petitioned to the State Department and have given them all the information that they wanted on Roberto and his history with us, and some of the things he's done since the information came out."

The Indians are hopeful that Hernandez might not face a suspension from Major League Baseball upon returning to the United States. Earlier this season, Marlins pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo -- mired for eight months in a similar false-identity situation as Hernandez -- received an eight-week suspension from MLB.

The difference between the cases is Hernandez drastically reworked his contract with Cleveland.

"Our understanding at this point," Antonetti said last month, "is that, because he's restructured his contract, there won't be an additional suspension required. That could change, but that's the guidance we've been given at this point. There are just aren't any absolutes."