Jose Contreras defected from Cuba in 2002 while playing a game in Mexico. When he did that, and especially after signing a $32 million contract with the New York Yankees, he became persona non grata in Cuba. He, like all other defectors, were barred from returning home and labeled traitors.
But a change in Cuban law that went into effect last month allow defectors to return to Cuba to visit and eases restrictions on the comings and goings of residents. Contreras was the first big name athlete to take advantage of that law and recently returned home for the first time in a decade.
CNN has the story, with some emotional words from Contreras himself.
While the money and fame obviously make the decision of athletes who defect an understandable one, it’s hard to imagine how they live for years, even decades, without meaningful contact with their family. Here’s hoping we’ve seen the end of those days.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.