Two Cubans banned for planning defections
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Former Cuban national team stars Yadel Marti and Yasser Gomez have been dropped from their Cuban league teams and been banned from playing baseball on the island for ‘committing a grave act of indiscipline,’ according to a terse one-sentence note in Friday’s edition of Granma, the Communist Party paper.
Close observers of Cuban baseball believe the two, who were kicked off the Havana-based Industriales team just a week before the league’s season opener, were caught planning to defect. The length of the ban was not announced but in the past, Cuban players caught planning a defection were banned from ever playing in Cuba. As a result many of those players -- including major league pitcher Orlando ‘El Duque’ Hernandez -- wound up defecting anyway. So there’s a good chance Marti and Gomez will be here for the start of spring training.
Marti, a 29-year-old right-hander, was named to the all-tournament team in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 after pitching 12 2/3 scoreless innings in four appearances, helping Cuba to a second-place finish. Gomez. a 28-year-old outfielder, hit .394 in Cuban league play in 2007. He was a member of Cuba’s silver-medal team in the 2000 Olympics but did make the WBC team. Neither player made the Cuban team for last summer’s Beijing Olympics.
Ironically, Friday’s announcement came a day after Cuban all-star infielder Dayan Viciedo, who defected last May, agreed to an $11-million contract with the Chicago White Sox.
-- Kevin Baxter