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Cuban Players Defectors

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  • #16
    Defector just looking for a chance

    Cuban Bárbaro Cañizares, who is playing in Nicaragua, wants the opportunity to show he can play in the major leagues.BY KEVIN [email protected]ifty dollars.
    That's all it took to change Bárbaro Cañizares' life forever. And though time will ultimately tell if it's changed for better or worse, on at least one level worse seems to be winning. In a rout.

    ''I can't stand not being with him,'' said Onix Vargas, a Miami beautician and the Cuban ballplayer's girlfriend of 12 years. ``It hurts. I want him with me, because I want to start a family. We want to start a family. But we can't do that if we're apart.''

    And they have been apart for more than a year, since shortly after Cañizares said goodbye to the rest of his family in Cuba to begin a complicated journey that took him to the Bahamas, Florida, Mexico, Costa Rica and finally to Nicaragua, where he leads that country's four-team winter league in hits (40), home runs (eight) and RBI (27) through 33 games.
    That might be good enough to earn him a shot at playing -- and starting a family -- in the United States, which is all he has wanted. This month, the Yankees and Mets sent scouts to see Cañizares play with the Mets' Wilfredo Blanco, liking enough of what he saw to recommend a contract and a $20,000 bonus.


    ''I have faith that I'll get the chance to go,'' Cañizares said from Managua, where he plays on a Boer team featuring fellow Cubans Michael Abreu, Yosandri Ibañez and Maikel Neninger. They left the island together in February 2004, placing them among the 29 baseball players who have defected from Cuba in the past two years but have yet to sign with big-league teams.

    Cañizares' journey began shortly after he gave a fan in Havana the shirt off his back. What he didn't know, though, was the foreigner he sold his national team jersey to was an official with the U.S. Interests Section. Because of that, Cañizares received a lifetime suspension from Cuban baseball -- and left him no choice but to defect.

    ''That was like telling me I couldn't live,'' he told Nicaraguan journalist Edgard Rodriguez. ``My life was baseball. My dream was to make the Cuban team. I had no interest in politics.''
    Sounds good, but the truth is a bit more complicated. An earlier defector, Osmani Garcia, told one baseball agent that Cañizares was ''crazy'' about leaving as far back as 1999 -- desires Cañizares confirmed in Mexico in 2002, days before security around the Cuban team was tightened following the defection of pitcher Jose Contreras.

    The suspension, however, forced his hand.
    ''I was going to leave,'' he said. ``It didn't matter how.''
    But he might have acted too late. Although Cañizares insists he is 26 years old, he already had played eight full seasons in the Cuban national series by 2002, when he was named MVP of the Intercontinental Cup tournament in Havana. The Cuban roster at that competition listed his birth date as Nov. 21, 1974, which would make him 31 now -- ancient for a 6-2, 220-pound catcher starting in pro ball.


    On the plus side is his performance in Nicaragua, his first real competition in two years. Aside from his power numbers, Cañizares also ranks among the league leaders in doubles (eight), triples (three), runs (23) and batting (.325). Every one of those numbers is better than those of Abreu, who got a $425,000 bonus to sign with the Red Sox in September, only to have the deal voided when Abreu was unable to establish the proper residency to qualify for a visa, then was found to have lied about his age.
    ''All we want is the chance to go [to the U.S.] and demonstrate what we can do,'' said Abreu, who was hitting .264 with five homers and 15 RBI through 110 at-bats for Boer. ``For now, we've stopped here, but at least the possibility exists to go forward.''
    And that's something -- among other things -- the players didn't have in Cuba.
    ''Everyone is free to think, to act, to do what they want,'' said Neninger, who was 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in seven games. ``That allows us to overcome the other things we don't have, like money, to reach our goals.''

    Added Cañizares, who gets about $2,000 a month plus room and board in Nicaragua: ``We're better off here than in Cuba, because at least we're free and we can do what we want and achieve what we can. We feel bad, because we haven't accomplished what we want. But we have faith we'll get the chance.''


    • #17
      Complete stats, click below:

      Barbaro Canizares y Michel Abreu are killing the pitching in Nicaragua.

      Home Runs

      Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo 9
      Michel Abreu, Bo 9
      Wilson Batista, Ch 5 (Dominican)


      Wilson Batista, Ch .347
      Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo .336
      Danilo Sotelo, SF .333
      Próspero González, Ch .322
      Justo Rivas, Le .311
      Michel Abreu, Bo .308


      Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo 34
      Wilson Batista, Ch 31
      Carlos Villalobos, Ch 27
      Michel Abreu, Bo 25
      Last edited by Cubano100%; 12-17-2005, 02:34 AM.


      • #18
        Aley (El Toro/ The Bull) Soler and Ponce Lions

        Alay Soler did not pitch to much in 2 years. Only 15 innings in the 2004 Dominican Winter league. Even tough he had a 5.34 ERA, he struck out 22 batters.

        Now he is pitching for the Ponce Lions in Puerto Rico. In 14 innings, he has not allowed a run yet.

        To our Boricua friends: Is there a place that list the players stats in Puerto Rico?

        Even though he will go to Spring training, he will start the season in Port Lucie. The Mets want to protect him from the April cold weather. He may push one of the back end starter out of the rotation sooner than expected though.

        "For those who think that the Cuban national league is A Ball"

        Canizares, Abreu, Alexis Hernandez, Mikel Jova, Miguel Perez and Arian Cruz (excellent ERA) performances in Nicaragua; Soler in Puerto Rico; Raul Valdez and Brayan Pena good performances in the Dominican should leave no doubt that the Cuban National league is the strongest A league in the world.


        Soler vence a los Lobos
        ARECIBO -- El cubano Alay Soler no permitió carreras en cinco actos en la victoria 6-1 de los Leones de Ponce sobre los Lobos de Arecibo.
        Soler, quien lanza por primera vez en Puerto Rico como pelotero profesional, no ha permitido carreras en 14 actos.
        Su apertura el miércoles fue la primera en lo que va del torneo, ya que los Leones lo estaban usando como relevista.
        Last edited by Cubano100%; 12-17-2005, 02:36 AM.


        • #19
          Cuban Defetors in Italy

          Some Cubans among the Italian oriundos!

          SQUADRA-Team GIOCATORE-Defector

          Palfinger Reggio Emilia Julio Villalon

          C. dei Normanni Paternò Jesus Ametler

          Caffè Danesi Nettuno Roberto Colina
          Caffè Danesi Nettuno William Ortega


          • #20
            Despite not having his kids with him, I put my money on Soler!

            12/16/2005 4:37 PM ET
            Soler is Mets dark horse reliever
            Former Cuban star hopes to impress this spring
            By Kevin T. Czerwinski /

            Mets Headlines

            It's no secret that the Mets have been trying to beef up their pitching staff, particularly their starting rotation. Kris Benson has spent time on the trading block this winter as general manager Omar Minaya continues looking for ways to tinker, hoping to find a way to upgrade a solid but not outstanding staff.
            Minaya may not have to look further than his own organization to find a dark horse candidate who could provide the help he seeks. Alay Soler, the Cuban defector whom New York finally brought into the fold at the end of October, has been brilliant so far while pitching for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League. While it's difficult to get too excited about statistics, especially in the watered down world of the Winter Leagues, Soler seems to offer more than a glimmer of hope in what many believe has become a pitching-depleted system.

            The hard-throwing right-hander is 1-0 in four games (two starts) for Ponce and hasn't allowed a run in 14 innings. He's struck out nine and walked five while opposing hitters are batting .104 against him. In contrast, Jason Scobie, who pitched last season at Triple-A Norfolk and led the organization with 15 victories, was 1-2 with a 10.50 ERA in four starts for Ponce with the opposition hitting .418 against him.

            "I feel good, but it still feels like I have a little bit more to go until I'm 100 percent," said Soler, 26, whose only other meaningful innings since he pitched for the Cuban National Team in 2003 were the 15 1/3 he recorded last year in the Dominican Winter League. "It's not injuries or anything like that. I just haven't pitched in a while. I'm still fine tuning everything. Everything is starting to take off the way it's supposed to, though.

            "I didn't feel I'd be this effective coming in here, but I'm working hard and everything is now falling into place little by little. I'm effective and that's all that counts. I hope the club takes that into consideration for next [2006] season."

            While the club will give Soler a long look in the spring, it's difficult to say where he would fit in, especially if Benson is still in the picture. There are already six starters for five spots with Brian Bannister waiting in the wings at Norfolk. He would conceivably compete with Jae Seo, who had a remarkable August, and Victor Zambrano, who lost his spot in the rotation. New York's middle and long relief remains a muddled situation so there is the possibility that Soler could come out of the 'pen if he pitches well enough in camp to make the team.

            "I'm not worried about it," said Soler, who went 10-4 with a 2.01 ERA in 125 1/3 innings for Pinar Del Rio of the Cuban League in 2003, striking out 102 and walking only 17. I know I have to work hard to earn a spot. Everyone is there for one reason and that's to help the team. Whatever role I have, that's what I'll do to help the team."

            Soler will be back in the United States next week, closing on his new Virginia waterfront home. Next Friday, he's planning on visiting the Children's Hospital in Norfolk and has already made a substantial donation to the Ronald McDonald House. Soler loves children, and he wants to do his part for the holidays. He left his two sons in Cuba and although he speaks to them regularly, he hasn't seen them since he defected in 2004.

            Though Soler will return to Puerto Rico after the holidays to continue pitching for Ponce, he's scheduled to participate in the 15th annual Rookie Career Development Program in Virginia in mid-January. While he's already experienced so much during his time in Cuba and during his subsequent flight to and exile in the Dominican Republic, he wants to participate in the program in an effort to get better acclimated to life in the Major Leagues.

            "I've had good times and bad times, but I feel at this time I have an open road ahead of me," said Soler, who signed a three-year $2.8 million deal in 2004. "I basically led the big league life when I played for Cuba though it wasn't much. I was living the lifestyle on the National Team."

            As for his friends and teammates on Cuba's National Team, Soler said that he was sad to hear that they may not be able to participate in next spring's World Baseball Classic because of the United States embargo on his country.

            "It's too bad because the young guys can't come here and show everyone what they have," said Soler, whose repertoire includes a fastball, sinker, slider, changeup and occasional knuckleball. "Still, I'd like the U.S. to put together a Cuban team that I can play for and represent my country that way."

            Soler expects to arrive in St. Lucie sometime in late January, three weeks ahead of report time for Spring Training. He wants to continue working out and not lose any of the ground he has gained by pitching in Puerto Rico.

            "He can't wait to get to the U.S. and play baseball for the Mets," Soler's agent Joe Rosario said. "He goes to sleep early every night so the next day can come."

            Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

            &content_id=1283417&vkey=news_nym&fext=.jsp&c_id=n ym

            By the way, Mr. Brian Banister got rocked by Cuba in Holland. The American team did not show up for the game to decide the fifth place. The American team went shopping instead of playing the game. I wonder how the people in Holland perceived that.


            • #21
              The U.S. skipped their last game because the field was unplayable, not because they wanted to go shopping.


              • #22
                Originally posted by Agente Libre
                The U.S. skipped their last game because the field was unplayable, not because they wanted to go shopping.
                Was the USA the only team that found the field unplayable?


                • #23
                  There was a huge rainstorm and the field was not in good shape. It did not make sense to risk injury over 5th place in a tournament that really didn't mean much anyway.


                  • #24
                    Michel Abreu

                    In Nicaragua, Cuban Michel Abreu of Boer Indians hit 2 home runs in a game and leads the league with 11.

                    Where are the Marlins?

                    I wonder why they can not fill the stadium.


                    • #25
                      From what I've heard, Abreu still can't sign a contract because his papers aren't in order.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Agente Libre
                        From what I've heard, Abreu still can't sign a contract because his papers aren't in order.
                        That was when Boston voided his contract. He was in Mexico first. Then, he went to Costa Rica where Cubans have solved their legal status in the past. Now, he is in Nicaragua. I bet you he has some type of Costa Rican document when he can travel to Nicaragua. If he does not have one, I guess he will get Nicaraguan citizenship by playing there and promoting their new league. Money talks!


                        • #27
                          Maybe, but he's been out of Cuba for 2 years, so something has gone wrong in his situation. I doubt Boston would have voided his contract if they thought his paperwork would be resolved quickly.


                          • #28
                            In Nicaragua, Cuban Barbaro Canizares of Boer Indians hit a home run and now has 10 behind fellow Cuban Michel Abreu that has 11.


                            • #29
                              Another Cuban Pitcher defected!

                              I just found out with other Cubans that pitcher Reinier Bermudez (Metropolitanos Warriors and Industriales Lions) is in the USA. He played in the 44 Series.

                              He will be entering the 2006 MLB draft.

                              Man, we need some hitters to defect. What is going on with Cuban pitchers? The pitchers are leading the hitters in defections. I guess the 32 millions given to Jose Contreras has somthing to do with it.

                              Everybody expects Kendry Morales to put big numbers soon. That is a lot of pressure on this guy. But Super Kendry is young and have some time to adjust to his new life.

                              Barbaro Canizares y Michel Abreu are killing the pitching in Nicaragua.

                              Home Runs

                              Michel Abreu, Bo 11
                              Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo 10
                              Wilson Batista, Ch 6 (Dominican)


                              Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo .350
                              Wilson Batista, Ch .349
                              Justo Rivas, Le .313
                              Michel Abreu, Bo .309


                              Wilson Batista, Ch 38
                              Bárbaro Cañizares, Bo 37
                              Michel Abreu, Bo 32
                              Last edited by Cubano100%; 12-23-2005, 09:32 PM.


                              • #30
                                Do you want to watch a gorgeous play?

                                Click the below link:


                                Under Multimedia, select Betancourt's Gorgeous Play.

                                Michel Abreu hit his 12 leading Hr in Nicaragua.


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