The inclusion of the outfielder Rubén Paz Llovet was the great novelty in the announcement of the Las Tunas preselection for the 60th Cuban National Baseball Series, held at the Julio Antonio Mella Stadium by the provincial commissioner José Luis Rodríguez and the mentor Pablo Alberto Civil.
Las Tunas, Cuba.- Paz is a 25-year-old baseball player, a native of the province of Granma, but who from early categories defended the colors of Las Tunas. The speedy center fielder made a spectacular breakthrough at the highest level of the Cuban baseball and was the true Rookie of the Year in the 55 Series, although the award went to the hands of Yoandi Cruz, from Pinar del Río.
That season, Rubén Paz set a record average for a beginning hitter, averaging 361 and leaving behind the Rolando Verde’s record. In his debut year, his offensive line (ave / obp / slu) was 361/411/476.
After legally leaving Cuba, in search of the Major Leagues, Paz has maintained the migratory link with his country and that has now facilitated the process to return to the discipline of the Lumberjacks. Since 2015, the Bayamo-born tried his luck in several semi-professional circuits in Mexico and even in 2019 had a brief foray with the Sultans of Monterrey in the Pacific League.
At the moment, the player is in Mexican lands waiting to travel to Cuba to join the training from August 3. The mentor Pablo Alberto Civil, in conversation via WhatsApp this Thursday, received confirmation of the athlete's firm commitment to be with Las Tunas in Series 60.
A CHAMPION TEAM BASE
Beyond the good news of the return of Rubén Paz, the Lumberjacks have just announced a group in which the same established figures stand out who have kept them three consecutive years on the national podium and who weighed heavily on the historic title of Series 58.
The catcher Yosvani Alarcón and the designated hitter Dánel Castro return to lead an offensive in which men like Yordanis Alarcón, Yuniesky Larduet, Rafael Viñales and Denis Peña will be pillars. Meanwhile, among the pitchers stand out Yoalkis Cruz, Carlos Juan Viera and Yudiel Rodríguez; these last, members of the National Team to the second edition of Premier 12.
As strength candidates to play a leading role, other players with already proved results appear, including Andrés de la Cruz, Yudier Rondón, Dailier Peña and Andrés Quiala. The latter, absent when a first list was announced last February, has reaffirmed to the team's management that his personal situation will allow him to join the training phase on an equal footing with the rest of his teammates.
The star hitter Jorge Yhonson, who is still recovering from a surgical intervention on one of his shoulders, continues to carry out a specific work of strengthening and rehabilitation, so he will not start the technical preparation with the rest of the group. However, the team management is confident that the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 postseason can contribute his offensive and experience to the green-red cause this season.
Among the pitchers, the coaches will have a variety of options to make up the starting staff and the men who will start from the mound. The right-hander José Armando Peña seems to be recovered from the physical problems that haunted him the previous season, while Alberto Pablo Civil, Ángel Sánchez and Yosbel Alarcón must again receive weighty responsibilities.
The right-wing Alejandro Meneses, possible opener or even closer of the team, returns after two years of inactivity due to an injury to his pitching arm and will be closely watched by the technicians and medical personnel. If he gets close to the level he was showing before had to stop, the Bartle's boy will be a fundamental addition.
Although the composition of the staff of starters could already be outlined, the truth is that it must wait for what each one shows in the six weeks of training. And also at the entrance or not of the left-handed Luis Ángel Gómez, who has reported his interest in playing with Las Tunas, but is pending the decision of the Holguín side. If he ultimately receives authorization, he would be included in the preselection.
Some players with sui generis situations appear on the announced list. Such is the case of outfielder Héctor Castillo, a member of Cuba's last softball team, who had to give up a contract with that sport in order to remain on the Lumberjacks roster.
Similarly, there was talk of pitcher Alvio Torres, a man from Granma who was here about three years ago, although he did not do the grade then. Now, after maintaining good results in the provincial series of the neighboring territory, he will receive the opportunity to earn a place. For the time being, he has made a good impression with the coaches, with a speed of around 80 mph and a lateral departure angle that could add effectiveness to his work.
The provincial commissioner José Luis Rodríguez also reported two cases that were evaluated, although it was determined not to include them. One of them, the pitcher from Granma Juan Ramón Olivera, who could have worked with Las Tunas last season, but at the last minute he preferred to do it with Industriales. The other is the Camagüey Yoel Darce, of little participation with the Bulls in recent years.
Las Tunas preselection, in addition to its already established players, includes several young players who, in order to continue growing, need to receive a preparation like that which is done for the National Series. These figures include catchers Deismel Hurtado and David Espinosa, infielder Luis Antonio Pérez, outfielder Osmany Urrutia Jr., and pitchers Anier Pérez and Yerlandi Osorio.
On August 3, a group that will not exceed 45 players will begin the six-week training period, although only 15 days later the team of 34 players will be announced, which will debut on September 12 against the Hurricanes from Mayabeque.
Las Tunas preselection
Catchers: Yosvany Alarcón Tardío, Rafael Viñales Álvarez, Oberto Coca Peña, Deismel Hurtado Machado, Felipe González Socarrás, David Espinosa Sánchez.
Infielders: Dánel Castro Muñagorri, Denis Peña Rivero, Yordanis Alarcón Tardío, Eduardo García Torres, Andrés de la Cruz Matos, Yudier Rondón Pavón, Ernesto Felipe Lalana González, Luis Antonio Pérez Henmings (Youth), Manuel Alejandro Ávila Martínez, Yúnior Josué Otero Refeca, Yaser Pérez Acosta, Rolando Torres Pinto, Alexei Méndez Celestino.
Outfielders: Yuniesky Larduet Domínguez, Leonis Figueredo García, Héctor Castillo Blair, David Fernández Olivera, Jorge Antonio Yhonson Dixon, Andrés Quiala Herrera, Osmany Urrutia Hernández, Dailier Peña Torres, Odellán Tineis Forcades, Rubén Paz Llovet.
Pitchers: Yoalkis Cruz Rondón, Yudiel Rodríguez León, José Armando Peña Rodríguez, Carlos Juan Viera Álvarez, Yosbel Alarcón Tardío, Alberto Pablo Civil Hidalgo, Ángel Sánchez Pérez, Noriel Viera Polanco, Anier Pérez Gonzalvo, Yacel Labrada Goulborne, Rodolfo Díaz Silva, Alejandro Meneses Abelleira, Eleisis Valera Benegas, Yordey Fuentes Palomino, Yoelkis Cruz Fuentes, Yerlandi Osorio Fedé (Youth), Keniel Ferraz Pérez, Alvio Torres Pérez.
Technical staff: Pablo Alberto Civil Espinosa (manager), Abeysi Pantoja Díaz and Jorge Hierrezuelo Tamayo (assistants), Rodolfo Correa Lobaina and Félix Núñez González (pitching coaches), Reynaldo Infante Millán (physical trainer), Rolando Ponce de León Rodríguez (bench coach), Heriberto Damián Cruz Rivero (delegate), Blas Hernández Almaguer (doctor), Ruperto Morales Blanco (physiotherapist), Amaury Ramón Sánchez Santiesteban (psychologist), Húbert Brito Machado (equipment carrier), Rolando Antonio Lluch Fernández (statistics), José Luis Rodríguez Pérez (commissioner).