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Coming of age

Braves' Furcal two years older than earlier reported

Posted: Friday February 15, 2002 5:43 PM

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- On the opening day of workouts for pitchers and catchers on Friday, the Atlanta Braves learned that shortstop Rafael Furcal had aged by two years.

Furcal, the NL rookie of the year in 2000 who missed the latter half of last season after having surgery on his shoulder, is actually 23, not 21 as he had previously claimed.

"That's what we think at this time," Braves assistant general manager Frank Wren said Friday. "We were just made aware of it when he went to pick up his visa and there was a discrepancy. It does not affect the overall way we value him."

Furcal's correct age was revealed when he experienced visa difficulties leaving the Dominican Republic. Further background checks were made because of increased scrutiny by U.S. officials following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, combined with new documentation requirements by the commissioner's officer, Wren said.

"Authorities are really checking things more thoroughly, especially with the Latin players," he said. "They're going back and getting documents the clubs didn't have access to when they signed them."

Another Braves' Dominican player with a birth date discrepancy was non-roster invitee, Luis Taveras, a catcher who is listed as 24 but who's actually 26, Wren said.

The issue of Furcal's age first came up in June of his rookie season when he was arrested and charged with drunken driving and underage alcohol consumption. A week later there were reports that he was at least 21, but he insisted in both instances that he was 19.


 
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