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Cuban Pitcher Free Agency Rejected

December 14, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras’ application to become a free agent was rejected Friday by the commissioner’s office, which concluded at least one of the documents was improper.

Contreras defected in October while Cuba’s national team was in Mexico, and his agent, Jaime Torres, submitted papers Wednesday to the commissioner’s office claiming that the right-hander had established residency in Mexico and had obtained a visa from the Dominican Republic.

Contreras came to the United States after he defected, which makes him subject to the amateur draft. Cubans who defect have tried to become residents of countries outside the United States and Canada, which allows them to be free agents.

Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said Friday that Contreras would not be declared a free agent based on the documents that were submitted.

``It appears from the investigation that was conducted that the documents do not reflect what they purport to reflect,″ a baseball official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Torres did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Contreras, who turns 31 this month, allowed two hits in eight shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles during an exhibition game at Havana in 1999. He struck out 10, including Albert Belle twice.

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