With major league scouts descending upon San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium to chronicle Cuban talent, it was reported earlier this afternoon two Cuban players participating in the Caribbean Series defected. This was according to an anonymous tournament source who spoke to USA Today Sports.
The Cuban Federation has yet to confirm the defections.
As Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, this marks the first time top Cuban players are playing on U.S. soil since the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Since then, President Obama initiated a process to normalize relations with the communist island nation.
So far, the Cuban contingent is 0-2 in Caribbean Series 2015, as is Puerto Rico. The two will face off Wednesday night in what effectively has become an elimination showdown.
Caribbean Series Standings a/o Feb. 3rd:
- Mexico 2-0
- Dominican Republic 1-0
- Venezuela 1-0
- Puerto Rico 0-2
- Cuba 0-2
- Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela (in progress)
- Puerto Rico vs. Cuba
2/3 – Tuesday Recap
In Tuesday’s early game, the Dominicans made their series debut with a 6-1 victory over Cuba.
Winning starting pitcher Rafael Perez kept Cuba scoreless over his 5.1 innings of work, while allowing 6 hits and striking out one.
Norge Ruiz suffered the loss for Cuba. He allowed 3 earned runs on 9 hits, walked none and fanned 3, over 5 innings pitched.
In the bottom of the 2nd, with 1-out and runners on 1st and 2nd, catcher Carlos Paulino singled up the middle to give D.R. an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the 6th, left fielder Willy Garcia‘s 2-run home run, and RBI from DH Audy Ciriaco and second baseman Alexi Casilla gave the Dominican squad a 5-0 lead.
Shortstop Dainer Moreir drove in Cuba’s only run with a single in the top half of the 7th. The Dominicans scored one more time in the bottom half of the frame to give themselves a 6-1 final.
In the night game, Puerto Rico also lost their second game of the tournament, this time to the defending champs from Mexico.
Mexico then took a 2-1 lead in the 3rd. Center fielder Rico Noel reached on 1-out single, and advanced on a wild pitch by Puerto Rican starter Joel Pineiro. Left fielder Maxwell Leon‘s single scored Noel. Maxwell later scored on a sac-fly from first baseman Joey Meneses.
Puerto Rico tied the game in the 6th on second baseman Enrique Hernandez‘ home run.
Mexico starter Francisco Campos exited the game after allowing 1 run, on 4 hits and one walk, in just 1.2 innings pitched. Reliever Juan Delgadillo pitched 4 innings, and allowed one run for the victory. Oscar Villarreal picked up his second save.
Participating League Champions:
- Cuba – Pinar del Rio
- Puerto Rico – Cangrejeros de Santurce
- Dominican Republic – Cibao Gigantes
- Mexico – Culiacan Tomateros
- Venezuela – Caribes de Anzoategui