Team official makes trip to Dominican

Thursday, February 23, 2006

JUPITER, Fla. -- The St. Louis Cardinals dispatched a team official this week to the Dominican Republic to expedite the return of four players to the United States, the club announced Wednesday.

Juan Encarnacion, Deivi Cruz, Hector Luna and Juan Mateo are expected at spring training camp today.

Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty dispatched assistant GM John Mozeliak for a rare 24-hour trip to learn the status of the players' visas.

"I met with Landry Carr with the U.S. consulate and let him know we really wanted to get this thing moving," Mozeliak said. "I wasn't looking for any favors. I was as polite as I could be and let him know if there was anything we needed to do to speed things up, I was there to help."

The players' visas were to be processed by late Wednesday, and the players were expected to be in Florida by Thursday.

Mozeliak said some of the delay was due to miscommunication about paperwork. He said the trip was educational.

"It was an interesting experience," he said. "I definitely think I understand the process a lot better."

Encarnacion is the early projection to start in right field, while Cruz and Luna will be competing for positions.

Mateo is a Rule 5 draftee, which means the Cardinals would want as much time as possible to evaluate him. He has to be kept on the Major League roster the entire season in order for the Cardinals to keep him, or sell him back to the Cubs at half price.

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