By Aliet Arzola Lima
As champions of the 60th National Series, the Alazanes de Granma will represent Cuba in the 30th Haarlem Baseball WeekHolland, which will be held from July 8 to 15 at the Pim Mulier Stadion.
As previously reportedthe squad led by Carlos Martí will travel to the European continent with eight reinforcements on its payroll, which were officially unveiled this Tuesday afternoon by journalist Carlos Hernández Luján on the television program Bola Viva.
A receiver, an infielder, three outfielders and the same number of pitchers will be included in the ninth from Granma, which will not be able to count on the services of Roel Santos, Raico Santos and Guillermo García, who were a fundamental part of the champion squad in the 60th Series and today they are contracted in Mexico and Japan.
The list of reinforcements is headed by receiver Ariel Pestano Jr., who was part of the payroll of the Alazanes in the last edition of the domestic classic, although his participation was limited to just over 100 appearances at the plate due to the irruption of Iván Prieto. Precisely, the mask from Villa Clara will act as a backup for Prieto, the irremovable starter for the Alazanes behind the plate.
Carlos Martí has also chosen to reinforce his infield with Alexander Ayala from Camagüey, who can perform at third base and shortstop, in addition to contributing with the wood, his strongest point.
However, the veteran mentor has decided to cover his back as much as possible in the outfield due to the aforementioned absences of the Santos cousins. Leonel Moas (Camagüey), Frederich Cepeda (Sancti Spíritus) and Dennis Laza (Mayabeque) will join the Alazanes squad to gain solidity in the prairies.
Finally, Martí has opted for two young starters such as José Ramón Rodríguez from Camagüey and Pavel Hernández from the capital to shore up his rotation, while Yoen Socarrás from Sancti Spiritus should serve as a wild card, since he has shown that he can work effectively both as a starter and as a reliever. .
At the event, in addition to Cuba and the Dutch hosts, will participate squads from Italy (managed by former Major Leaguer and Cooperstown Hall of Famer Mike Piazza), Japan (the defending champion), the United States and Curacao, which replaced Chinese Taipei after the Asians declined to compete.
The Alazanes have agreed their debut for July 9 against the locals, and then they will successively face Japan, the United States, Curaçao and Italy in the qualifying round.
Cuba has won the Haarlem Baseball Week five times. The first title came in 1972 and they repeated in 1974, but then they had to wait 22 years to celebrate again in 1996. In 1998 they revalidated the crown and in 2012, a decade ago, they won the last title after defeating 4×2 to Puerto Rico in the final.
Cienfuegos left-hander Norberto González was the most outstanding player in that decisive duel, completing a great relief of 5.1 innings at a rate of one hit and seven strikeouts. The decisive connection of the game was to the account of Ariel Pestano, who drove in a couple of runs with a single when the score was tied 2×2.
The mask from Villa Clara won the Press Award, while Yulieski Gurriel (seven hits and the same number of trailers) was chosen Most Valuable Player of that 2012 edition.
The Cuban team, led by Víctor Mesa, had several players in its ranks who later emigrated and reached the Major Leagues. Such are the cases of José Abreu, Yuli Gurriel, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Aledmys Díaz, Alexander Guerrero, Rusney Castillo, Guillermo Heredia, Odrisamer Despaigne, Dalier Hinojosa and Darién Núñez.
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LAST MINUTE: Cuba ANNOUNCED reinforcements to the Dutch team this 2022