BAYAMO, Granma.— The gods of baseball have finally rewarded Carlos Martí with a championship title. Cuban baseball’s longest-serving active manager can now add a National Series trophy to his display case, after dethroning two-time champion Ciego de Ávila in the final of the 56th National Baseball Series.
The 68 year old strategist, both a strict disciplinarian and motivator, led Granma’ Alazanes (Sorrels) during a season which saw them cast as the underdogs from the outset. “We didn’t see ourselves as having much of a chance of becoming champions until we came-back against Matanzas. We were down 2-3, and the situation was difficult, but thanks to a great effort by the team, we were able to do it,” stated the manager, visibly thrilled following their win.
“I’m overjoyed, because we worked to reach a goal, to win the championship after so many years, and we’ve done it. The province has worked hard over recent years, with the support of authorities, to improve its baseball, and deserves to celebrate the championship title to the maximum,” stated Martí who flawlessly managed a group of both experienced and inexperienced players.
“We faced readjusting the team after several key players left for various reasons. This led to more detailed tactical work with the players, with an emphasis on defensive issues, the combinations around second base, center field, and the pitcher, which helped us a lot to win the first stage,” noted the veteran, with a knack for picking reinforcements.
When asked about the addition of Frank Camilo, Laza, Lahera, Yoelkis and company to the team, he couldn’t help but smile, remembering his good fortune during the reinforcement-selection rounds: “I got to chose first on two occasions which helped. I was able to select just who I needed. We did an analysis, and the technical team identified our weak areas and we focused on covering them.
“What is more, the reinforcements fit well from the very beginning, both those from the second round and from the playoffs, specifically Manduley, Paumier and Entenza, who won us three post-season matches, have been key in these important games,” stated Carlos Martí, who will soon be off to face the challenge of the Caribbean Series, taking place in Culiacán, Mexico, February 1-7.
“Representing Cuba is extremely important, both for me and many players who have never had the chance to compete in an international tournament. We are aware of the high level of the Caribbean Series, but are going to go out there motivated to play well and secure a good result, I assure you.”