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'Carmona' seeks pardon and return to Indians

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The pitcher Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, told the Associated Press he hopes to obtain a judicial pardon and return to the Cleveland Indians this season.

Hernandez was placed on baseball's restricted list after he was arrested in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges last month. Authorities have said he is 31, three years older than the pitcher claimed.

"I'm doing all that is necessary so that when the pardon is granted, I won't have to wait long to play again," the former Buffalo Bison said Wednesday.

Hernandez also said he keeps in touch with Indians manager Manny Acta.

"He has provided support," he said. "We don't talk a lot about the issue, but he is keeping an eye on me."

Hernandez's agent, Jorge Brito, said he is confident Hernandez will soon rejoin the team.

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Around the horn

*Former Yankees manager Lou Piniella has been hired by the team's YES Network as a special contributor. Piniella will help with 20-30 events this year, including some game telecasts. He also is with the team as a spring training instructor in Tampa, Fla., near his home.

*Ryan Howard took live batting practice for the first time since he tore his left Achilles tendon while making the final out of the Philadelphia Phillies' season-ending 1-0 loss to St. Louis last postseason. The big slugger says he's pleased with his recovery, but that he hasn't set a "time limit" on his return.

*Veteran right-hander Jason Isringhausen agreed to a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The 39-year-old Isringhausen went 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA while pitching in 53 games for the Mets last season.

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