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Awaiting Word on 2 Players

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 6, 2005; Page D10

BALTIMORE, April 5 -- The Baltimore Orioles have yet to hear whether Enrique Wilson or Jay Witasick has accepted their assignments to Class AAA Ottawa or elected to become free agents. The process has become a bit more complicated for Wilson, who has visa problems that could keep him from becoming a free agent.

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie said Wilson does not yet have a permanent work visa and therefore couldn't play for another team's minor league affiliate. He could play for Ottawa because the team is based in Canada. At this point, the infielder's options are limited.

The agent for Sammy Sosa, above, said he hasn't had serious talks with O's. (Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

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Foreign citizens are required to have a P-1 visa to play for U.S. teams in the major leagues. Foreign players in the minors need to have an H-2 visa. Wilson was late in applying for an H-2 visa and was denied one. Wilson, from the Dominican Republic, could get a P-1 visa if he signed a major league deal with anyone or was promoted by the Orioles during the year, but couldn't obtain an H-2.

The Orioles hope to hear soon from both players, who were reassigned on Saturday.

A's Shuffle Rotation

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Rich Harden was scratched from Wednesday's game because of blisters on his right hand. Kirk Saarloos will start in Harden's place against Daniel Cabrera. . . .

Adam Katz, Sammy Sosa's agent, said he has not had serious talks with the Orioles about a long-term deal. Sosa's contract expires at the end of the year. . . .

The Orioles' win on Monday was their fifth straight on Opening Day, the longest active streak in the majors. Rafael Palmeiro started his 18th consecutive Opening Day, which is also the longest active streak in baseball.

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