A funny thing happened on the way to spring training for New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia. Mejia is still not in Florida working out with the rest of the Mets pitchers; instead, he is home in the Dominican Republic after being held up because of visa issues, as he undergoes a review of his age and identity. It appears that Mejia was randomly chosen, but until the matter is cleared up and Mejia is in Port St. Lucie with his teammates, Mets fans should be at least a little concerned.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson admitted that it was unusual for a player like Mejia, who has been on the roster for several years and has undoubtedly ventured between the United States and the Dominican Republic several times, to be investigated like this. What’s disconcerting is that we’ve seen this before: players from Latin America with fake names and fake birth certificates assuming new identities in the United States and playing under a different name or with a different age (see Giancarlo Stanton). There has been a crackdown in recent years, trying to prevent players from committing fraud with regards to their proper name and age.
The situation is only a couple days old, so there’s no reason, at least at this point, to think that this is anything other than a random check. However, because something like this happening to a player like Mejia is so unusual, the longer it goes on, the more concern there should be.
As for Mejia the player, he is currently working out at the Mets complex in the Dominican Republic while he waits for the matter to be resolved, which is the next best thing to being in Florida for his teammates. But for a pitcher that’s less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and who the Mets may very well need at some point this season, it’s valuable time that is being lost.