By Yasel Porto
The protagonist of this brave testimony completely became one of the best pitchers in the capital and his level would have been even better if it were not for the environment that surrounded him and also for himself. There even came a moment that for several was the best of all between Industrialists and Metropolitans.
His name is Juan Pablo Echevarría, who, thanks to the work of Rafael Gómez Mena, left the bat and the glove in the mid-nineties and began a career as a pitcher thanks to a powerful arm that allowed him to dominate at will based on speed and learning. the occasional breaking pitch.
And along with those tools was that extreme recklessness that allowed him to take on anyone with any respite. Many times the result came out more because of that “baseball hottie” than because of any other factor.
The “Pincho” became the first pitcher of Metropolitanos between 1998 and 2001 with a performance that in a couple of seasons even placed him in the elite of all Cuban pitching. In 1998-99 he was among the top winners (11) and in 1999-2000 very few were more effective than him (1.57 PCL).
And it is precisely in this last campaign when the event referred to in the headline occurred, regarding the celebration that year 2000 of the unprecedented playoff between Industriales and Metros, the representatives at that time of the Havana City province within the National Series.
Juan Pablo was the starter of games 1 and 4 of that memorable quarterfinal duel where the Scarlets were one win away from qualifying for the semifinals after winning the first two games. The first of them from the hand of the protagonist of this article with a final score of 8 × 5.
With the series 2-1 in favor of those led by Eulogio Vilanova, Echevarría returned to the charge and did even better than in the opening match. For six innings he batted to zeros with the veteran Lázaro de la Torre until the reaction of the Lions came at the beginning of the final third. What came after was a total cachumbambé that ended in favor of the blues in extra innings.
But “Pincho” had a high-quality start despite exploding after hitting six consecutive scones. Only the players who were there knew or knew later that the charismatic former pitcher was not in a normal state. The man was still under the influence of drug use, something that he made public 22 years later in an interview he gave to sports journalist Fernando Rodríguez Álvarez.
“At that time I was involved in drugs. I smoked mostly crack and early that day they had to take me to the Latino (Latin American stadium) in a wheelbarrow that folded because I couldn’t get there on my feet,” Juan Pablo began, who later added more elements to that unknown story. for most people.
“I spent all night doing drugs and I’m not ashamed to say it at this point. I pitched seven innings very well, but then the sun caught me at one o’clock and I burst,” said the charismatic man who has lived in Miami for quite some time.
There is a large percentage of specialists and teammates who guarantee that if “Pincho” had had more discipline for baseball with a more favorable social and economic environment, his results would be even better and lasting. After joining a national team in the Netherlands and pitching in the 2000-01 season with his lifelong team, the Metros, Echevarría left Cuba and outside of it he was unable to stabilize himself or achieve a career as a professional baseball player. In eight campaigns he finished with a balance of 57-40 and an excellent PCL of 3.07 if we take into account the formidable level of his rivals and especially that in six of those seasons he faced the aluminum bat.
He is another one of those examples where one regrets the way in which a very valuable talent was wasted. In his case, with the combination of several complex factors that surrounded his life and that in a great way led him to take steps that ruined a successful life personally and professionally.
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Cuban pitcher CONFESSED threw a drugged game: “They took me to the Latino in a wheelbarrow”