The Cuban baseball will have an intense competitive schedule in the international arena during 2015, with special emphasis in the Caribbean Series, the Pan American Games and the Premier 12 tournament.
Heriberto Suarez, national commissioner of the discipline, confirmed yesterday at Mesa Redonda TV program the purpose of Cuba to win the title in the Caribbean baseball classic, scheduled from next February 2 to 8 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The executive said that Cuba will be represented in the traditional contest by the squad of Pinar del Rio –current Cuban monarch-, widely reinforced by stars of the national team.
The ALBA Games to be held on April, in Ecuador and the traditional friendly matches against the university US team, scheduled for early July in the northern nation, are other international commitments of Cuban baseball in 2015.
Those events will serve as preparation for the Pan American Games, agreed for July 10 to 26 in the Canadian city of Toronto, where the Cuban team will try to regain the continental title lost four years ago in Guadalajara, Mexico.
After several international competitions such as the Rotterdam Tournament, in Holland, the Caribbean nation will face another demanding challenge when intervening in November at the novel Premier 12 contest which will gather in Chinese Taipei the first 12 sides in the world ranking of the discipline.
On the policy of recruiting Cuban players in foreign leagues, the national baseball commissioner indicated that this process will continue to expand gradually over 2015 and in the coming years.
Heriberto Suarez said that next season the Japanese teams Yokohama DeNA Baystars, Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines will again have on their payrolls Cuban players such as Granma's slugger Alfredo Despaigne, signed by the latter for two years.
He asserted that other squads belonging to the Japanese baseball circuit as the Chunichi Dragons, Rakuten Golden Eagles and Hanshin Tigers begin the approach to enter into negotiations with the Cuban Federation of the sport, guarantor of the rights of the athletes.
The Cuban players Alfredo Despaigne, Yulieski Gourriel, Frederich Cepeda and young pitcher Hector Manuel Mendoza were involved during 2014 in the called Japanese Major Leagues.
Sweeps Mark First Series in Cuban Baseball
Matanzas, Industriales, Pinar del Rio and Ciego de Avila made the most of the beginning of the second phase of Cuban baseball championship by completing sweeps in their respective commitments.
The Matanzas Crocodiles materialized the swept yester day when beating Granma 7-6, in a match decided in the ninth inning when the defeated pitcher Carlos Juan Viera committed error on a rookie Randy Camaraza´s ground ball with the bases loaded.
Yadiel Hernandez led the offensive of the winners by hitting 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs, together with the reinforcement Alexei Bell, who hit 3 for 5 with three runs scored, while Pedro Aguero took the win in relief role.
Pinar del Rio emphasized its upward trend with easy victory 7-0 over Isla de la Juventud, in match marked by great pitching performance of the right-hander Vladimir Baños, with only three hits allowed in seven innings of work.
Outfielder Andres Quiala totaled three RBIs to lead the attack of the defending champions of Cuban baseball tournament, who took advantage of the sweep to move up and now they share the fourth seat in the standings with their victims and Ciego de Avila.
Precisely the Tigers knocked out 11-0 Holguin with offensive highlight by catcher Osvaldo Vazquez, 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs, as well as Jose A.. Garcia, who also took off a homer and drove in two runs .
The ace pitcher Ismel Jimenez allowed four hits in six innings earning thus his sixth win of the season, while the also star Vladimir Garcia showed further signs of recovery by smoothly pitching one inning.
Finally, Industriales completed the sweep by defeating 7-2 Artemisa, with win for the rookie Raidel Orta and offensive highlight for veteran first baseman Alexander Malleta, author of a homer and two RBIs.
Matanzas leads with 34 wins and 14 losses, with five games ahead of the Granma (29-19), who now suffers the siege of Industriales (28-20), followed by Ciego de Avila, Isla de la Juventud and Pinar del Rio (27-21), while Artemisa (25-23) and Holguin (23-25) appear further behind. / Source: ACN.