Angel Villalona arrives, joins Giants at spring training
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.— Giants manager Bruce Bochy envisions few issues or distractions with the arrival of former top first base prospect Angel Villalona, who 3½ years ago was charged with murder in his native Dominican Republic.
Villalona reported to spring training Friday and was undergoing a physical ahead of the first full-squad workout by the reigning World Series champions Saturday.
Villalona was charged in the September 2009 death of a 25-year-old man at a bar. He was freed on bond that November after the family of the deceased asked a judge to drop the case. But Villalona was also stripped of his U.S. visa at the time.
Last spring, Villalona had his visa delayed for what the team was told were weight and health issues. MLB has already reinstated him off the restricted list.
"He's coming in, I know it's been a long journey for him," Bochy said following Friday's workout. "From what I gather, he's really rededicated himself and is excited about getting another opportunity. We're getting ready for a season, and he'll be part of it."
In October 2011, Villalona said he had dropped a lawsuit against the Giants seeking $5 million in damages after the team decided to reinstate him to its farm system. He alleged the Giants kept him on the inactive list even though he had been cleared of homicide charges. Villalona had sought back wages and punitive damages.
Villalona received a $2.1 million bonus when San Francisco signed him at age 16 in August 2006. It was the biggest bonus the franchise had ever given to an amateur player at the time.
He was considered among the club's top prospects before the 2008 season and was selected for the Futures Game during All-Star festivities that year. San Francisco reportedly outbid the New York Yankees, Mets, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners for Villalona.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound slugging first baseman played for the Giants' Dominican Summer League team last year, batting .303 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 44 games.
Years ago, Villalona drew comparisons to Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Wily Mo Pena. Villalona played in 74 games for Class-A San Jose in 2009. He hit .267 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs.
Bochy doesn't envision a sit-down or special meeting with Villalona.
"Well, like normal, like I would any player maybe," the skipper said. "I knew when I first came here. We've got work to do, and he'll be part of the group here getting ready for the season."
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