Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, listens to questions… (Tony Dejak / Associated…)
Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as All-Star pitcher Fausto Carmona, apologized to teammates for deceiving them and the Cleveland Indians organization for the last 12 years.
The right-hander addressed the team through an interpreter and said, “I want to say I'm sorry. I thank God I am here and have been given a new chance.”
The native of the Dominican Republic was arrested in January outside the U.S. consulate when he went to renew his visa. Like many aspiring baseball players from Latin America and the Caribbean, he took on a different name and lied about his age. Hernandez is 31, three years older than he said when signed by the team.
Fausto Carmona is actually a “distant cousin,” according to Hernandez, who said he came up with the plan to change his name and age but did not want to elaborate about the deception.
“I want to forget the past,” he said. “I want to work hard and help my team on the field.”
When Hernandez got to his locker in the Indians clubhouse, he saw the nameplate “No Name,” which is given to arriving players before their nameplate can be made.
“I am extremely remorseful and apologize to the fans, teammates, the team and everybody else who has looked up to me,” he said. “I am extremely happy with the support of the fan base, but do not know what [reaction] to expect.”
Hernandez, who is serving a three-week suspension, will throw in the bullpen at Progressive Field on Monday before beginning a minor league rehab assignment.
Miami Marlins pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo, previously known as Leo Nuñez, was suspended eight weeks for similar fraud charges. He is eligible to be activated on Monday.
Hernandez has been a mainstay of the Indians' rotation. He was their opening-day starter in 2011, when he went 7-15 with a 5.25 earned-run average. He made 32 starts and didn't miss a turn in the rotation. Hernandez is 53-66 with a 4.59 ERA in five seasons. After going 1-10 as a rookie, he helped Cleveland reach the ALCS with a 19-8 record and 3.08 ERA in 2007.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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