Angel Villalona's visa not approved for medical reasons

Angel Villalona's visa not approved for medical reasons
February 21, 2012, 7:47 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former top prospect Angel Villalona no longer faces murder charges in the Dominican Republic, but he will not report by Thursday's deadline for position players because his visa has not been approved by the U.S. Consulate in Santo Domingo, Giants vice president Bobby Evans said.

Villalona was deemed unfit to qualify for his P1 visa, which requires that he establish his status as an elite athlete, Evans said. It's the first time the Giants could remember a player's visa being flagged for that reason.

Giants officials would not disclose Villalona's physical issues, saying that it is a combination of conditioning and medical reasons "that he has dealt with in the past."

"We don't know if this delay is 24 hours or two weeks," Evans said. "We're hoping we can convince them he is in the condition he should be."

Villalona, 21, has not stepped foot in the U.S. since September, 2009, when he left Single-A San Jose on an approved visit to the Dominican while on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps. While there, he was charged int he fatal shooting of a man in a bar near his hometown of La Romana. Charges eventually were dropped after nearly two years, during which time Villalona was either in custody or under house arrest.

Major League Baseball removed Villalona from its restricted list late last year and the Giants added him to their 40-man roster in December in order to protect another team from claiming him in the Rule 5 draft. Players on the 40-man roster receive automatic invites to major league spring training; Villalona has a locker in Scottsdale Stadium with his uniform and workout clothes awaiting him.

Conditioning was an issue for Villalona before his career was put on hold. The thickly built power hitter received a 2.1 million bonus as a 16-year-old -- a franchise record at the time.

Villalona has been working out at the Giants' facility in the Dominican Republic and has been part of a conditioning program that includes baseball work, Giants trainer Dave Groeschner said.

"We're pleased with where he's at on the baseball side," Evans said. "His weight is down from where we started and it's close to what we were targeting. So we're disappointed by the delay. ... We're also hopeful we'll be able to cross this line."

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