Thursday, April 17, 2014
Fascinating look into Puig’s journey from Cuba to the Dodgers:
In a no-tell motel on Isla Mujeres, eight miles off the coast of Cancún, Yasiel Puig’s escape had come to a halt. Confined to a corner room at the end of a shabby horseshoe-shaped courtyard, he could only wait and hope, for his value to be appraised, his freedom to be bought. There was nothing personal about it, no loved one vowing to pay any price, only the calculus of a crude business. What was this gladiator-size man, with the Popeye forearms and the XXL chest, actually worth—to the people bankrolling his defection from Cuba, to the smugglers now holding him in Mexico, to the agents and scouts who would determine the U.S. market for his talents, to the baseball team that might ultimately write the check?
For close to a year Puig had been trying to force an answer, to extract himself from Fidel Castro’s state-run sports machine, which paid him $17 a month, and sneak across the tropics to a mythical north, where even benchwarmers lived like kings. Two, three, four times, maybe more, he had risked everything and fled, only to be detained by the Cuban authorities or intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard—each failure making the next attempt more urgent. Finally, in June 2012, the 21-year-old outfielder left his home in Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s southern shore, and set off by car for the northern province of Matanzas, just 90 miles from Florida. He was traveling with three companions: a boxer, a pinup girl, and a Santeria priest, the latter of whom blessed their expedition with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of chicken blood.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
Cardinals limited roster space get even more limited…. Anyone have projections for Diaz yet?
The Cardinals have agreed to terms on a four-year, major-league deal with shortstop Aledmys Diaz, a Cuban who defected from the country and had to wait out a years suspension before being eligible as a free agent. The team announced the deal Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Screw Carlton Fisk…Ivan Rodriguez is the “flannel Pudge”!
The legendary catcher Ivan Rodriguez today welcomed Cuba to the Caribbean Baseball Series and said the team of his country, the Indios de Mayagüez, is able to give fight.
In an aside with Cuban media in Lidotel hotel in this city, Pudge (as is known worldwide the “boricua” catcher) said that Cuba deserves to be at events like this, and others that may arise from now on. It is a pleasure that is participating, he added.
Rodriguez commented that Cuban teams are always welcome to these tournaments.
Next year the series will be in Puerto Rico and I hope Cuba will be present because, I repeat, it should be in these tournaments, hopefully this is the beginning for final reinstatement.
The former player in Major League Baseball is located in Margarita Island as general manager of the Indios de Mayagüez, champion of the professional league of the island. The team is fine, fairly complete, added a few things more like several players and pitchers to be ready to compete, the important thing is to compete, he said.
During his career in the majors, the flannel Pudge defended several franchises, including the Florida Marlins, which won the 2003 World Series.
Posted: February 01, 2014 at 04:48 PM | 3 comment(s)
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Another one of Cuba’s best players has left the island, the latest in a wave of defections that isn’t expected to slow down.
Rusney Castillo, a 26-year-old center fielder who had been one of the top players in Cuba, has left the country to pursue a contract with a major league team, Baseball America has learned.
Castillo has played five seasons for Ciego de Avila in Cuba’s top league, Serie Nacional, so he will be able to sign as a free agent exempt from the international signing bonus pools.
That process could still take several months, since Castillo will have to establish residency in another country, have Major League Baseball declare him a free agent and the U.S. government’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clear him to sign. Once that process is complete, Castillo should draw interest as a free agent who could either go straight to the majors or get a tuneup in Triple-A before moving up.
Castillo is short but has a strong, athletic frame at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive righthanded swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate. Primarily a center fielder in Cuba, Castillo has also played some second and third base, so his versatility could be a draw for some teams. He’s an aggressive, high-energy player, though some teams see him as a fourth outfielder.
When Yoenis Cespedes was in Cuba, Cespedes was the star center fielder on the Cuban national team, with Leonys Martin the up-and-comer. With Cespedes and Martin gone, Castillo stepped in as Cuba’s national team center fielder at the World Cup in October 2011 in Panama. Castillo was a standout at the tournament, hitting .512/.524/.854 in 10 games, going 21-for-41 with two home runs, two triples, four doubles, one walk and two strikeouts. He made the tournament’s all-star team after leading the World Cup in batting average and slugging while ranking fourth in on-base percentage.
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