The Washington Nationals have decided to fire special assistant Jose Rijo and will shut down the team's academy in the Dominican Republic as part of a restructuring of the team's operations in Latin American in the wake of an age-changing scandal involving one of the team's top prospects, several baseball sources have confirmed.Later:
The team's academy operates out of a complex owned by Rijo in San Cristobal.
Nationals assistant general manager and vice president Mike Rizzo arrived in Santo Domingo on Tuesday to look for alternative sites for the team's Dominican academy. Rizzo also met with Fernando Ravelo, general manager for the Dominican Winter League Tigres de Licey, about replacing Rijo as the team's director of Dominican operations.
When asked whether he had been offered Rijo's position, Ravelo told ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas "Maybe."
The team previously acknowledged that general manager Jim Bowden and Rijo are both the subject of a baseball investigation in the Dominican Republic concerning the skimming of bonus money from amateur signees.
This move by Nationals ownership may not be a good sign for Bowden, who hired Rijo and has known him since Bowden was the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, where Rijo played from 1988-2002. Bowden was Cincinnati's GM from 1993-2003.