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Posted at 9:42 AM ET, 02/27/2011

Henry Rodriguez's visa delay should end Tuesday

By Adam Kilgore

Right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez, the pitcher the Nationals acquired along with outfielder Corey Brown by trading Josh Willingham to the Oakland A's, should arrive Tuesday after being delayed by a visa issue all spring, Manager Jim Riggleman said.

Rodriguez, a native of Venezuela, has been waiting for the issue to clear for two weeks, long enough for the matter to become almost comical. "I'm hearing that Henry is going to be here Tuesday ... May 4," Riggleman said, chuckling. "No, Tuesday."

The Nationals expect Rodriguez to fit into the back of their bullpen and perhaps compete with Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard for the closer role. Rodriguez, 24, has reached 103 miles per hour with his fastball and could become a dominating reliever if he hones his control. In 27 2/3 innings for the A's last year, during which he compiled a 4.55 ERA, Rodriguez struck out 33 but also walked 13.

Rodriguez has been throwing will awaiting his visa, but the Nationals will make him catch up to their other pitchers before he throws in a game. Once Rodriguez arrives, he will throw two bullpen sessions and at least one session of live batting practice before appearing in a game, Riggleman said.

Elvin Ramirez, the other Nationals' reliever delayed by a visa issue, has thrown two bullpen sessions. The Nationals will have him pitch one live batting practice session and then decide if he should throw another or pitch in their accelerated minor league camp before taking the mound in a spring training game.

"He looked strong yesterday," Riggleman said. "He's feeling good. The rotation on his breaking ball, it appears he must have been throwing. Usually, you wouldn't be advanced with that at this point unless you've thrown in January and all that."

By Adam Kilgore  | February 27, 2011; 9:42 AM ET
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I don't mean to sound ignorant of immigration control issues ... but why exactly do these players have visa issues year after year? I mean, If I know I have to report to a new job on Feb 1st, I'm starting the paperwork to GET to my job with enough time to spare.

Ironically, it doesn't really matter with Rodriguez since he has no options and he WILL be on the 25-man roster. But this is hurting the team, hurting his chances of carving out a role, and definitely damaging his spring training routine, meaning he'll enter the season not quite ready to go.

What causes a 2 week delay in getting a work visa for baseball players? Does he have a criminal record or something? Are they (or their agents) just incompetent and failed to file the correct paperwork on time? Can anyone share some insight here?

Posted by: tboss | February 27, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Probably another problem related to the "patriot act".

Posted by: WashOut | February 27, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Probably a combination of the "Patriot Act" and the Venezuelan government's attitude toward the US government. Chavez is not Washington's best friend. And in these cases it may not help their cause when they are players for the capital city's (and seat of power) team. There's a lot of anti-US sentiment out there people.

Posted by: periculum | February 27, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Could also have been related to the fact that both Ramirez & Rodriguez changed employers' this off season.

Posted by: BinM | February 27, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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