Have you been following the craziness that the Washington Nationals have been immersed in over the past 10 days? If not, I'll try to recap. Back in 2006, the Nats signed a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Esmailyn Gonzalez. Only it turns out that the kid isn't really 19 years old, nor is his name Esmailyn Gonzalez. He's 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo.
As a result of this debacle (Gonzalez's contract included a $1.4 million bonus, and it's not clear who actually received that money), the Nats decided to fire Jose Rijo, a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden, who runs an academy in the Dominican Republic that was the base for the team's Latin American scouting. (And Bowden likely isn't far behind Rijo out the door.) They also shut down their operation, cleaning out the entire staff and moving to a new facility.
So why am I writing about this on a Detroit Tigers blog? Well, the Tigers also use Rijo's academy for their own Dominican operation, including their summer league team. Do these developments affect the Tigers' business at all? Assistant general manager Al Avila says there are no worries.
"Right now, it has not affected us," Avila said of Rijo's situation. "There's nothing to really to say. We're functioning day-to-day normally. We have a contract. "
The arrangement with Rijo includes a lease through the end of the year to use the academy's fields (including a full diamond and half-diamond), as well as dining and housing facilities. Now, the Tigers will be the only team utilizing the operation. And what happens next year is currently under consideration. I imagine they'll be looking for a new place.