GM: Paulino -- hopefully -- by weekend
March, 2, 2011
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com
Paulino's visa is being held up because of his MLB suspension for a performance-enhancing drug, which has eight games remaining. The U.S. government wants proof Paulino is clean before allowing him into the country.
"We still are not sure when he will be here," Alderson said. "Because of his positive drug test, there’s an additional set of procedures he has to go through to get his visa, which include a panel interview as well as a drug test. Those are administered by the United States government in order to issue the visa. It’s not something MLB does. It’s not anything that we’re directly involved in. Those are done by outside consultants. In the case of the drug test, it’s sent to the United States for analysis. It has to come back. In the case of the panel interview, there's a report that has to be written. What I'm told is it generally takes 10 days to two weeks in order for that to be returned. All of that was done on the 18th of February. So we're in the range now where he ought to be back.
"We have contacted the consulate. The consulate is attempting to expedite the return of the report as well as the test. So we're still standing by."
Could the Mets or Paulino have done anything earlier -- such as filing Paulino's paperwork more in advance of his desired arrival -- in order to have had him in camp on time? It sounded like perhaps that could have been the case, if the Mets had realized the potential sticking point and not filed Paulino's application in bulk with other international players, at least according to Alderson's response.
"From my understanding, most of these visa applications are initiated in bulk from individual MLB clubs, but to a central visa processing center," Alderson said. "And then they are, in turn, forwarded to individual consulates, whether they be in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic or some other location. It's possible the process could have been initiated earlier, but probably not."
Paulino has eight games remaining on his suspension, so having time to get ready for the season probably still isn't an issue. Still, he is losing valuable time gaining familiarity with the pitching staff, especially knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Terry Collins said he would have Paulino catch the Mets' pitchers in minor league games the final week of spring training. Paulino will be permitted a 10-day window to appear in official minor league games at the start of the season before being activated.
"Certainly I'd like to have him here by this weekend," Alderson said. "That's a hope. But given the passage of time, given the fact that typically the return of the report and the return of the test require 10 days to two weeks, we should be in that range now. It's been 13 days."