Rijo's tenure with Nats may be over
Special assistant loses post following Lugo's identity situation
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Nationals have decided to dismiss Jose Rijo as a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden and shut down the academy that Rijo owns in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, ESPN.com reported on Wednesday. But Rijo said he has not heard from the Nationals regarding his dismissal."Nobody told me anything. I don't want to think I will be fired," Rijo said via phone on Wednesday night. Rijo has been linked to Carlos Alvarez David Lugo, who previously called himself Esmailyn Gonzalez. The shortstop, who received a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Nationals in 2006, allegedly falsified his name and age. In Washington's 2008 media guide, Lugo is listed as being 19, but he is actually 23. Major League Baseball's department of investigations is looking into the matter. Rijo has said he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Rijo took a leave of absence on Saturday and was told by team president Stan Kasten not to talk to anyone from the media. Rijo did talk to the Washington Post in the Dominican Republic, saying he did nothing wrong. "This is my reputation on the line," Rijo said in explaining why he granted the interview. "I don't want anyone to hear a one-sided story. I've been in this game for over 20 years, and I did nothing wrong." According to ESPN.com, Nationals assistant general manager Mike Rizzo arrived in Santo Domingo on Tuesday to look for alternative sites for the team's Dominican academy. The team also met with Fernando Ravelo, general manager of the Licey Tigers of the Dominican Winter League, about replacing Rijo as the team's director of Dominican operations, according to the story. Bowden and Kasten were not available for comment. Rijo joined the Nationals in 2005 to become the chief administrator of the Nationals Dominican Academy and a special pitching instructor during Spring Training. He also played in the big leagues for 14 years, going 116-91 with a 3.24 ERA. He is best known for his years with the Reds and for winning the World Series Most Valuable Player Award in 1990.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.