Nationals Notebook

Nationals' Jorge Sosa Is Finally Granted His Work Visa

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 3, 2009

CLEARWATER, Fla., April 2 -- Jorge Sosa signed with the Washington Nationals about four months ago. Only on Thursday, though, did Sosa receive approval to actually join them. The relief pitcher, stranded in the Dominican Republic because of visa problems, was finally granted his work visa and will join the organization's extended spring training in Viera, Fla.

Though his delayed arrival ruined his chances to make the Opening Day roster, Sosa could still figure into the team's bullpen picture if the current group of relievers struggles. For now, the Nationals want Sosa to work himself back into shape in Florida. After that, the 31-year-old will pitch in Class AAA Syracuse.

"He's going to be part of our inventory," Nationals Manager Manny Acta said.

Until the organization heard word of Sosa's visa approval, it had almost given up on the pitcher, who was signed to a non-guaranteed minor league deal. Several weeks ago, the team removed Sosa's name from the Space Coast Stadium locker. Then, it gave his uniform number (55) to Julián Tavárez.

Sosa, who has been working out in the Dominican Republic, is a veteran of seven big league seasons (40-49, 4.67 ERA), and pitched in 2008 with the Mets. But he won't be eligible to pitch right away with Syracuse, because he is in the middle of a 50-game minor league suspension for amphetamines. That link to performance-enhancing drugs, the result of a positive test last summer, complicated the visa process.

Moyer Is Hit Hard

Last season, Philadelphia left-hander Jamie Moyer started five games against the Nationals. In those 28 1/3 innings, he had a 2.54 ERA; he allowed eight earned runs. On Thursday, the Nationals proved just how easily a couple swings from an improved lineup can trump last year's product. With two home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and one from Austin Kearns (his team-leading fourth), the Nationals thumped Moyer for 11 hits and nine runs in four innings. The offensive outburst, their best of the spring, keyed a 12-10 victory. Cristian Guzmán and Alex Cintrón hit solo home runs.

Olsen Struggles

Moyer, though, wasn't the only starter to endure a rough outing. Washington lefty Scott Olsen gave up nine runs, too -- though his were spread across six innings, and only four runs were earned. After the start, Olsen played down his mediocre spring, saying, "Spring training stats are irrelevant." Numbers aside, Olsen said he's ready for the year. For now, Olsen's career April stats give him the benefit of the doubt. In that month (15 career starts), he's 7-3 with a 3.64 ERA.

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