OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Industriales' slugger Ale¬xan¬der Malleta will bear a great deal of responsibility against Tampa Bay's pitchers. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

Announced in Havana, March 10, was the roster of players to be considered for the national team which will face off against the Tampa Bay Rays from the United States' major league baseball, on March 22.

The group includes 41 ballplayers - four catchers, 12 infielders, eight outfielders and 17 pitchers, who will train under the direction of a team of coaches from the country's National Series and 19 veteran stars, in San José's Nelson Fernández Stadium.

Present at the press conference held in the Ciudad Deportiva's events room were Heriberto Suárez, national baseball director, and Higinio Vélez, president of the Cuban Federation.

League leaders explained that the group was selected on the basis of performance during the second round of this year's National Series, the main reason, they reported, Ciego de Avila's Luis Robert Moirán was absent from the list.

"His numbers are not on a par with the other outfielders selected," said Carlos Lois, the National Commission's head of training.

While the Tigers' player doesn't have stellar statistics, they certainly weren't terrible. He is second in the league in runs scored, surpassed only by Stayler Her­nán­dez (40), has an average of 361, and stole five bases in five attempts.

Beyond the figures, Luis Robert is among the country's three best emerging talents, and if he is to grow and improve, he should participate. With such a large pre-selection team (perhaps too large), nothing and no one need be sacrificed to include him, and give him the opportunity to try out and learn alongside other stars.

If the criteria for selection was performance in the second round, why is Holguin's designated hitter not on the roster? Mi­chel Gorguet is third in runs batted in (33) during this period, and has an average of 335, with six homeruns.

As for other details addressed, Heriberto Suárez explained that pitchers will throw for just two or three innings against Tampa Bay, to protect their arms, since four days later the country's much-awaited post-season playoffs are set to begin.

Experienced Villa Clara pitcher, Freddy Asiel Álvarez, will be one of the national team's starters on the mound. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

Suárez also confirmed that a Cuban national team will play 19 games in Canada's Independent League, in which a Japanese team will compete as well, in the month of June. Our team will play in Ottawa, Quebec, New York and Rockland, and the possibility exists that there will be three exhibition games with the Washington National's minor league teams in the United States.

THE PRE-SELECTION ROSTER:

Catchers: Frank Camilo Morejón, Yosvany Alarcón, Os­valdo Vázquez and Olber Peña.
Infielders: Ale­xan­der Malleta, Yordanis Samón, William Saavedra, Yordan Man­duley, Rudy Reyes, Yurisbel Gracial, Yunior Paumier, Dainier Gálvez, Andy Sarduy, Juan Carlos Torriente, Yeniet Pérez and Yorbis Borroto.

Outfielders: José Adolis García, Stayler Hernández, Gui­llermo Avilés, Denis Laza, Rubén Paz, Yohandry Urgellés, Dai­ron Blanco and Roel Santos.

Pitchers: Freddy Asiel Álvarez, Leandro Martínez, Frank Montieth, Noelvis Entenza, Danny Betancourt, Héctor Ponce, Alexander Rodríguez, Vladimir Baños, Vladimir García, Liván Moinelo, Yaifredo Domínguez, Yoanni Yera, Jonder Martínez, Yosvani Torres, Miguel Lahera, José Ángel García and Yennier Cano.