Orioles' Simon almost certain to miss spring training after being denied bail

Reliever, who agent says hasn't been charged in fatal shooting, likely to be placed on restricted list

February 01, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon was denied bail Tuesday and remains in a Dominican Republic prison as the chief suspect in the New Year's Day shooting death of his cousin.

Tuesday's decision by a Dominican judge will be appealed, but it virtually guarantees that the 29-year-old right-hander will not be in Sarasota, Fla., when Orioles' pitchers and catchers are expected to report Feb. 14.

The Orioles have not commented on Simon's situation since he was named as a suspect and subsequently turned himself in to authorities two days after 25-year-old Michael Esteban Castillo Almonte, Simon's cousin, was shot dead after a New Year's celebration in the resort town of Luperon.

However, it is expected that the Orioles will keep Simon on their 40-man roster until Feb. 26, which is major league baseball's mandatory reporting date. If he isn't in camp by then — and it is expected he will not be — the Orioles can place him on the sport's restricted list, which is for players unable to perform baseball duties for reasons other than injury.

That will open a spot on the club's 40-man roster. Simon could remain on the list until he is ready to re-join the team, whenever that may be, according to a Major League Baseball spokesman. While on the restricted list, a player does not get paid and does not accrue service time, the spokesman said.

Phil Isaac, one of Simon's United States-based agents, said his client's playing career is not a primary concern at this time.

"Our focus right now is on the young man who is battling for his life. We don't want to comment on baseball," Isaac said. "At this point, our focus is on the case at hand."

Although reports from the Dominican say Simon is facing involuntary manslaughter charges, Isaac said Simon has not been officially charged with any crime. However, a judge ruled last month that Simon could be held for up to a year while the investigation continues. That is not uncommon in the country.

"It happens, according to their laws, it is, I guess, part of their constitution," Isaac said.

He maintains that Simon is innocent and when a ballistics test is released — Simon's side has been waiting for nearly a month for it to be made public — it will show that Simon's gun did not fire the fatal bullet. Isaac has previously contended that there are witnesses who will testify he was too far from the incident to be culpable.

On the day he surrendered to authorities for questioning, Simon told media that the shooting was accidental, and his side has argued the pitcher was shooting into the air and not at anyone.

However, that account was refuted by Castillo Almonte's half-brother, 17-year-old Starlin Castillo Hernandez, who was shot in the arm during the incident. He says Simon was the shooter and it was purposeful, according to Dominican media reports.

Dinosa Dilone, Simon's lead defense attorney, told the Associated Press the defense would appeal Tuesday's ruling.

"We think the judge acted in such a way to avoid a reaction from the media," Dilone said. "There is already forensic evidence that Simon's weapon did not cause the death of the victim."

Simon pitched in a career-high 49 games with the Orioles last year and led the team with 17 saves. He was expected to compete for a middle-relief role this season, but it appears the Orioles will move ahead without him in their plans for 2011.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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