Are the days of ballplayers risking their lives to defect a thing of the past?
The Cuban Government’s anouncemnt thru GRANMA (the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party) says that athletes will be able to sign contracts abroad as long as they “fulfill their obligations at home.” Said obligations were characterized thusly: “It will be taken into account that they are in Cuba for the fundamental competitions of the year.” This suggests that Cuban athletes will still be required to play for the national team and tournaments.
NBC’s Orlando Matos in Havana, who confirmed the news, says this could be considered one of the most radical economic reforms announced by the Cuban government. Sports were declared strictly “amateur” in the early 60’s. This reform would allow the athletes, trainers and other sports specialists to keep the money earned from contracts made abroad as long as they pay taxes to the Cuban government. When it comes to Cuban baseball, athletes will start to get paid, receive bonuses and other monetary awards (all in Cuban pesos) and this indicates the beginnings of a professional Cuban Baseball League.
It is unclear how this affects baseball players coming to play in the United States beyond the issue of taxes, but one can only assume that this move is designed in large part to address them given the primacy of baseball in Cuba and the embarrassment to the government engendered by its biggest star athletes fleeing the country to play. Yasiel Puig has become a sensation. Yoenis Cespedes before that. We wrote the other day about a documentary on Yunel Escobar’s harrowing journey to the U.S. Before that we bore witness to Orlando Hernandez’s famous defection. As of now, teams are scouting Cuban defectors Alexander Guerrero and Jose Dariel Abreu, putting them in line to be the next big Cuban success stories.
The devil will be in the details, of course, and the details insofar as they relate to Cubans in Major League Baseball are not yet known. Nonetheless: Viva increasing normalcy in a relationship that has been messed up for far too long.
TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Blue Jays have placed Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad injury.
An MRI before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox revealed a low-grade strain, and Tulowitzki will receive treatment on the leg before resuming baseball activities.
“I think I needed more time to get over the hump,” he said. “There was a couple things that made me realize that I wasn’t myself out there. I just felt it too many times.”
Tulowitzki was injured stealing second in New York against the Yankees on Tuesday. He came out of that game, and after sitting out the remainder of the series, he returned for Friday night’s home game against the Red Sox but was ineffective, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and showing limitations in his movement in the field.
“It’s tough,” Tulowitzki said. “You could rest it and maybe get better in a week or so, but then you have to play with a man down, and that’s not the right thing to do either, so that was the decision.”
He is batting .204 this season, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are expected to split time at shortstop until Tulowitzki returns.
The Blue Jays called up left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to take Tulowitzki’s spot on the roster. Loup, who has yet to play this season, has been recovering from a forearm strain in his pitching arm and just completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mets have acquired first baseman James Loney from the Padres in exchange for cash, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported on Saturday afternoon. The Mets’ interest in Loney was first reported on Tuesday after learning that Lucas Duda would be out “a while” with a stress fracture in his back.
Loney, 32, has spent the entirety of the 2016 season with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system. He hit .342/.373/.424 with two home runs and 28 RBI in 169 plate appearances.
Rubin suggests Loney could platoon at first base with Wilmer Flores, who is expected to return from the disabled list soon.
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have placed shortstop Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right foot.
Aybar left Friday night’s game in the fifth, one inning after he was hit by a pitch from Miami’s Adam Conley. The Braves said Friday night that X-rays were negative.
Aybar, acquired as part of the offseason deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, is hitting .182.
Daniel Castro is starting at shortstop in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.
In a corresponding move, the Braves recalled right-hander Aaron Blair from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Saturday’s game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday that Clay Buchholz has been moved to the bullpen.
Buchholz was lit up for six runs on Thursday in just the latest poor outing in a year full of them thus far. His ERA now sits at a lofty 6.35 and he is posting a career low strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine innings while both his walk rate and his home run rates have spiked. His WHIP — 1.465 — is the worst he’s posted since 2008.
Eduardo Rodriguez will take his place in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list. He’ll get what would have been Buchholz’s next start on Tuesday.
According to the depth chart, Buchholz was the Red Sox’ second starter. He’s been their worst starter by far this year, however, and now he’s likely a long man who will be seeing mopup duty for the foreseeable future.